Logistics 4.0: The Gap Between Skills and Jobs in the Supply Chain


Technologies such as algorithms of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, IoT, robots or big data are part of the new ecosystem in which we move as citizens and as an industry, in fact, all of them have been introduced in our way of acting and have transformed the economic activity and work of companies.

All this composes what we now call Industry 4.0 and that has managed to generate in our sector, the new era of Logistics 4.0, an increasingly technological and interconnected sector in where the use of large-scale data and artificial intelligence are offering new key efficiency pathways for business development.

Specifically, we need to point out that to be able to talk about a new economic cycle, robotics should be already present in at least half of the companies in the global industry. However, according to the forecasts of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) by 2020 the world industry will be using more than 2.5 million robots at an annual growth rate that will exceed 10 percent and with a number of units that will double the robots that were there in 2010.

In this line, we can confirm that robotics will have a positive effect in companies that have developed all the areas related to research and innovation, as well as those that have incorporated the novelties of the first technological wave ensuring that companies that use robots produce more, export more, are more efficient and, therefore, improve productivity.
However, given this scenario, there are concerns about the future of jobs. Technology does not destroy work but biases skills and abilities while displacing tasks, jobs and people. As the use of robotics grows, the number of workers decreases.

But given this new paradigm, we need to ask ourselves, is the logistics sector prepared to face a new technological era? These types of technologies end-up giving rise to new professional profiles, increasing employees’ salaries and creating new jobs, which usually compensate for those lost to people who are displaced. And in the case of logistics, what we are beginning to experience is the difficulty in finding those qualified profiles adapted to new technologies. Hence, technology will be an enabler of skills and not simply a destroyer of job positions.

In this context where the supply chain models are being modified by digital transformation and new businesses arise around the connected dynamics of smart cities, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence begin to take relevance in the supply chain environment becoming essential to train the managers that must make decisions in terms of operations to establish the basis of a management model that allows the definition, implementation and monitoring of any project included in the business strategy.

It is interesting to assess the fact that technology is advancing faster than the content studied in universities or business schools. There is a clear lack between the digital gap and the lack of training we have in technological matters. Therefore, it is important to generate new training programs that achieve a balance between “the human and the robotization process” in order to adapt the unstoppable needs that the market presents to the skills that future actors can offer.

To summarise, logistics is a spearhead in all this change and it is essential to learn to overcome the digital divide that acts as a barrier to the new scenario of Logistics 4.0 in which there are several opportunities to exploit.