On a visit to Unipart Logistics in Birmingham, Haoxiang Ren, vice-president of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, said that in China "the skills shortage is for every subject and every position in the sector".
Ren explained there was a fundamental mismatch between the demands of employers and what the Chinese education system is turning out. "Demand is like a pyramid," he said, with many more operative-type jobs at the bottom and relatively few jobs for managers.
Despite this, he said that around 400 universities in China a year provided 100,000 graduates studying logistics as a major part of their degree, leading to a glut of prospective candidates looking to enter the sector at managerial level.
In contrast, only 90,000 graduates with a relevant qualification left 800 secondary vocational colleges (for 15- to 18-year-olds), an insufficient number to fill the far more numerous lower level roles. "It [the education system] doesn't fit the nature of the industry demand," said Ren.
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