South Africa is facing a critical skills shortage in certain industries and the logistics industry happens to be one of them. While there is a big shortage of technically oriented individuals to fulfill trade positions there is also a shortage of individuals for analytical positions owing to the shortage of candidates that are mathematically oriented.

For the logistics industry to keep growing, logistics software programmes are necessary to drive technological advances. Transport software (TMS) and warehouse software (WMS) play a crucial role in ensuring that South Africa hosts a resilient supply chain.

In some environments, staff with the ability to analyse and adjust work processes to internal and external variants are crucial. This is especially true in environments where data management plays an important role for the optimisation of a plant or warehouse. Software solutions are available to assist companies with data management, but without staff to develop and manage the programmes, such as a warehouse software technician, the software will not be able to deliver according to its full capacity.

The ability to master maths is at the base of analytical thinking- a skill crucial in the development of logistics software, warehouse software and transport software. However,  the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education was ranked last in a survey of 62 countries by the World Economic Forum.

In addition, the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literature Study reports that 43% of South African grade five learners failed to reach the lowest international benchmark, in contrast to 5% of grade four learners internationally. This means that they have not yet mastered the basic reading skills required to access and retrieve information for reading comprehension purposes.

What will happen to South Africa if its youth keeps failing at acquiring the skills needed to ensure we keep up with international best practices and technological advances? To ensure growth, we need to keep developing our logistics industry, but what if the skills needed to deploy or maintain warehouse software and transport software technologies are inadequate and international solutions become preferable to local solutions?

It is crucial for South Africa to encourage its youth to excel at maths and science, think analytically and apply their minds. Maths and science form the base of future developments and are at the base of every IT development. While a lack of employment in South Africa is evident, students can ensure their futures by developing and excelling in mathematical fields, establishing career goals in related industries and filling the skills gap between the first and third worlds.