Warehouse operatives crisis: the UK locations with the biggest labour shortages revealed


New research has shown which areas of the UK have been hit hardest by the skills crisis engulfing the transport and logistics industry.

The continued e-commerce boom, and a reduction in EU labour availability, has left many firms struggling to find enough warehouse operatives to meet high customer demand – but analysis by Mintsoft shows that some regions are faring worse than others.

According to the research, London tops the list for the highest number of unfilled vacancies at 233, according to live jobs board data compiled on 21 February.

Next was Bristol with 219 roles available, followed by Birmingham (188) and Northampton (146).

Commenting on the findings, Rob Hodgson, WMS and E-commerce Fulfilment Expert at Mintsoft, said:

“Anyone who works in the industry knows how difficult it’s become to recruit operatives but our data sheds light on the regional discrepancies. Competition for skills is particularly fierce in the capital, perhaps because it’s traditionally been home to EU nationals who have now left.

“The pandemic has changed consumer buying behaviour forever, which will continue to drive demand in the e-commerce and 3PL sector. While this is clearly good news, it puts immense pressure on businesses, especially SMEs, to deliver – at a time when increasing a headcount isn’t an option.

“3PLs recognise this and are increasingly investing in their warehouse operations in order to make better use of their existing resources.”

The 20 locations with the biggest shortage of warehouse operatives were as follows:

London – 233 vacancies
Bristol – 219 vacancies
Birmingham – 188 vacancies
Northampton – 146 vacancies
Leeds – 129 vacancies
Nottingham – 125 vacancies
Milton Keynes – 122 vacancies
Leicester – 117 vacancies
Manchester – 101 vacancies
Coventry – 98 vacancies
Bedford – 90 vacancies
Sheffield – 86 vacancies
Swindon – 80 vacancies
Peterborough – 77 vacancies
Doncaster – 77 vacancies
Stoke-on-Trent – 73 vacancies
Bradford – 71 vacancies
Exeter – 70 vacancies
Warrington – 70 vacancies
Derby – 69 vacancies
Clare Bottle, CEO at the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), adds:

“Today’s market is tougher than ever before for the warehousing sector. Labour shortages are no longer limited to the Christmas peak trading period nor are they restricted to warehousing’s famous ‘Golden Triangle’ in the East Midlands.

“In light of the failure of Government to recognise or even mention the role of warehousing and logistics in last month’s Levelling Up white paper, this research is particularly timely, providing an important evidential basis for UKWA’s continued representation to policymakers for more support in the face of critical labour shortages.

“Indeed, a recent poll of our members confirmed that labour shortages are the number one concern for 2022 and our National Conference this week (March 8-9th), will focus on the theme of Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today.”


We analysed data from Indeed under the search term ‘warehouse operative’. We then broke this data down by the regions of the UK they were being advertised in. From this, we found London had the highest number of job vacancies in this particular field – and ultimately the biggest shortage of warehouse operatives.

This is based on data collected on Monday 21 February 2022.