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Transport and logistics industry overview

Allan Ruddy

Old business models face unprecedented market disruption, but there are still plenty of opportunities in this industry for cool-headed and adaptable grads.

Managing and moving materials, goods and services by rail, air, road or sea has become a complex business. As the world becomes more connected, moving products and people from point A to point B quickly, safely and efficiently has never been more difficult. Traditional operators face stiff competition from companies like Uber and Amazon, with innovations like the use of drones for deliveries characteristic of the industry’s shift towards automation and other technologies. 

Most employment options for grads can be found in logistics and distribution companies, manufacturers, transport companies, courier services, retail and consumer good chains. Support functions play a key role in performance, particularly financial, HR and marketing.

According to the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, the median salary for employees in the transports and logistics sector is $50,000, with salaries ranging from $37,000 to $80,000. 

Job market outlook

Well-established logistics and freight companies face various difficulties when it comes to satisfying their customers’ full range of new preferences. Their networks, skills, physical assets, and services are a product of outdated market conditions and expectations. These days, customers want their products faster, more inexpensively, and from all over the world. The customers themselves now range from consumers ordering books online to massive conglomerates shifting vast quantities of agricultural products around the country. 

The exponential growth of online sales has led many traditional retailers to get involved in the transport and supply end of the business, which means plenty of opportunities for graduates to enter new roles with new responsibilities.

The rapid rise of technological advances and patterns of conscious consumption has made it difficult to predict future trends in this industry. Graduates who have excellent problem-solving, technological, analytical and customer service skills will thrive in this industry, regardless of how it evolves in the future.

How to get hired

Being prepared to work in different locations or work unusual hours will hold you in good stead, as this industry operates with a 24-hour model. The lower on the totem pole you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be offered shifts at irregular hours, so flexibility will give your application a significant boost.

Research how general market conditions are impacting the company you’re applying to, and use your cover letter and interview to demonstrate what you’ve learned. It will show the recruiter that you take the business seriously, and know how to respond to a market change quickly and intuitively.

Key skills you need

Disruptive thinking

With so many new business models and challenger brands entering the market on an almost daily basis, the ability to find efficiencies, change workflows, adapt to new market pressures, and re-engineer systems will be invaluable to employers hoping to thrive in the new economy.
Business acumen

While striking a deal with a low-cost local network might seem like a great way to cut costs, the time it takes to manage the partnership might create more difficulty than it’s worth – these are the kinds of decisions that you can be faced with, and knowing how to navigate deals is all part and, ah, parcel.

Stakeholder management

In an industry dominated by partnerships, alliances and – at the end of the day – servicing customers, good stakeholder management and people skills are a must.