Monday 24th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Britain’s got talent – so let’s use it

Regular readers of this column will have noticed that two of my favourite and recurrent topics are apprenticeships and gaps in supply chain management, so eventually I was bound to produce one piece combining the two. This is it.

It has long been my dream that we offer aspiring entrants to logistics and those already working in it a sensible and achievable career framework (Skills for Logistics’ Professional Development Stairway) and a variety of clear career pathways they can follow.

Apprenticeships offer these pathways and offer real training and on the job experience from the age of 16. In other sectors such as engineering and construction, an apprenticeship is something to be proud of. It confers a status on the individual and represents the start of a career pathway that will elevate the apprentice to the technician class and beyond.

Not in logistics it doesn’t.

Our numbers are increasing markedly and as the policies of the current government start to bite and the funding starts to flow then we should hope to see some more. But are apprenticeships widely accepted as a good route into a vibrant and pivotal career? No. Are apprenticeships widely offered by large, medium and small employers to get and develop the best talent and bring them on in their business? No. Do we present our sector as a career of choice so that people queue up to become apprentices? No.

In support of the major policy drive for apprenticeships, we have reformed the available apprenticeship frameworks on to a new system for England and Wales. These reforms are now complete and we have formally issued the new frameworks in England (this will follow in Wales in August).

We have also taken the opportunity to develop new apprenticeship frameworks in Commercial Moving and International Trade and Logistics Operations and added them to the list of apprenticeships in logistics including Driving Goods Vehicles, Warehousing & Storage, Traffic Office and Mail Services.

While this is a list of apprenticeships in logistics, another dream of mine has been to offer a logistics apprenticeship. I am delighted to say that, alongside a number of big and small employers in the sector, we have developed a Logistics Operations Apprenticeship. This at last allows employers to take somebody on as an apprentice and show them the ropes across the logistics function rather than having to tie them to a warehousing or driving tag right at the start.

This offers employers the opportunity to school leavers at 16, put them on the Level 2 Logistics Operations Apprenticeship, train them across the board and have an experienced and trained operative at 18 – one that knows their business as well as having the craft skills necessary.

What is more, they can also then progress on to Level 3 in any of the traditional logistics craft skills or go to Logistics Operations supervision at Level 3. I’ve signposted these options a number of times and the skills system does tend to work at a snail’s pace but the Logistics Apprenticeship is here now and it offers a fantastic opportunity to really drive some new talent into the business or nurture talent that already works in the sector but has not had the chance to grow.

Bringing supply chain management into the same column is actually very easy. The Logistics Operations Apprenticeship framework offers apprentices the chance to move from unskilled entry at step 1 to step 5 on The Stairway as a Logistics Supervisor.

Next we intend to work with employers to develop a Supply Chain Operations Management “apprenticeship” to run from step 5 to step 7 which represents the most senior operational management level. This will take full account of managing supply chain operations in the current environment of global trading and the need to collaborate effectively to meet the challenges of cost minimisation, resource efficiency and sustainability.

So we are now in a position where we have the frameworks necessary to offer people a real apprenticeship and a career of choice, it is one of the few areas of government where they are looking to increase spending and logistics is a priority sector for the National Apprenticeship Service.

Why wouldn’t you?