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About the Sector

About the Sector

Please give an overview of your sector?

The Freight, Logistics, Shipping and Distribution sector is a service provider industry, facilitating the effective movement of goods into and out of Ireland. As an Island nation, the Irish Logisticians are and have a need to be among the most skilled in the global economy.

The short reason for International trade is resource management; countries around the world have different natural resources, different skilled industries and countries trade with one another in order to profit on their surplus, thereby allowing them funding to import what resources and skills they do not have.

With a population of 4.7 million people, Ireland’s Sea and Air Ports are vital gateways for Ireland's key exports and imports. 

Logistics is the term given to encompasses the movement of goods from Export to Final Importer but there is a lot that happens in between. An Irish Exporter will make a sale of Goods to a German based Importer. The Irish Exporter will employ a Freight Forwarder to act as an Architect of Transport and facilitate selection and booking of transport providers and the documentation required.

The Transport/ Haulage company will collect the goods from the Irish Export and transport the load via may different combinations of options; drive to Dublin Port, take a Ferry to a western port of the UK, drive across land, take another ferry to Rotterdam in Netherlands and then drive the remainder of the journey to Germany.

Even when finally imported, the German based Importer will then employ the services of a local Distribution company, that will have the local knowledge and facilities to handle the final mile delivery of the imported goods to retailers/ end users.

The above is a simplistic overview of the process. Freight, Logistics, Shipping and Distribution providers would have the knowledge required to handle the different facets of this process from project cargo (requirements for a box of finished Fairy Doors vs Wind Turbines) to crossing different borders (Switzerland is at the centre of the Europe but as they’re not an member of the European Union, specialist documentation is required) and other regulations that are required (Handling Dangerous Goods).

What is the size and scope of the sector?

Ireland’s International Trade at a glance (2016): 

– Goods exported €117 billion 

– Goods imported €69 billion 

– Trade surplus €47.3 billion

The Haulage industry in Ireland is made up mainly of small to medium enterprises with the average company having five trucks. 

What are the current issues affecting this sector?

Brexit is shining a light on the transport and logistics sector like never before as politicians and stakeholders struggle to understand the complexities of the supply chain and contemplate the enormity of the decisions to be made that will impact future trade for generations to come.

This in itself poses lots of opportunities for investment, support and innovative new ways of doing business. However this sector, as a career choice often appears to be unattractive to young people. The transport sector in particular has been less successful than others in recruiting younger workers due to many factors including a perception that it is made up of predominantly low skilled jobs and long hours. This perception must change! The transport and logistics sector unfortunately is suffering from a serious skills shortage across all levels which hinders progress and makes dealing with change extremely difficult.

In May of 2017, the Irish Government issued a call for applications for new Apprenticeship programmes, with special request for industries with no clear entry point.

TU Dublin - City Campus worked with Representatives Bodies and a selection of Employers across these Industries to form the Logistics Associate Apprenticeship (LAA) Consortium.

The two year Logistics Associate Apprenticeship was launched offerring a Level 6 QQI qualification. 

With a broad exposure to all facets of the Freight, Logistics, Shipping and Distribution industries, the LAA provides a solid foundation for Apprentices to begin their careers and choose their own direction at the end of the Apprenticeship.

The government has also indicated that up to 1,000 new customs officials staff and veterinary inspectors will be needed to prepare Ireland’s ports and airports for Brexit.

  • In the region of 200 extra full time staff to carry out Sanitary and Phytosanitary Controls (SPS) checks and controls at ports and airports.
  • In the region of 120 extra full time staff to prepare export certificates at ports and airports, in relation to SPS.
  • In the region of 600-700 full time staff to carry out relevant controls at ports and airports, in relation to customs controls.
  • Increased customers and SPS controls will require upgraded infrastructure at ports and airports, in particular at Dublin and Rosslare Ports.

The increasing use of warehouse management systems, stock control, and temperature controlled warehousing are also resulting in a need for skilled warehouse staff.

Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?

With Ireland home to a high number of global companies, there is a strong demand for importing and exporting goods:

  • 9 of Global Top 10 Technology Companies based in Ireland
  • 9 of Global Top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies based in Ireland
  • 10 of Global Top 20 Insurance Companies basin in Ireland
  • 17 of World’s Top Medical Technology Companies
  • 8 of Global Top 10 Aircraft Leasing Companies based here

A large proportion of the current labour force in the sector has less than upper secondary education qualifications. Despite this, the wage for the transportation sector remains competitive, ranked seventh out of 14 different sectors in terms of regular earnings.

Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?

The Freight, Logistics, Shipping and Distribution industries are all interlinked yet their vital operational work in background goes largely unnoticed. As a consequence, these industries are facing a Labour and Skills shortage as the economy grows with a need for over 30,000 entrants by 2025. 

To combat this shortage, a new Logisitcs Assosiate Apprenticeship (QQI Level 6) has been introduced. 

Apprentices are employed for a period of two years with academic study (1 day per week) forming part of this programme. Experience is gained by working on the job and Apprentices will be required to complete assignments and examinations for both their academic study and work based placements, ensuring that they receive the correct preparation for positioning themselves for their future careers. 

Full details can be found here.


There is demand for more graduate level entrants to the FTDL sector to ensure a future provision of managers, planners and associated professionals with adequate skills.