Friday 21st Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Does your company qualify for qualifications?: Mick Jackson

Even though your columnist inevitably adopts a ‘Just in Time’ approach to the deadline for copy for this column, there is still a fairly long time lag before it appears. At the time of writing this month’s column, the national press was full of McDonalds announcement about awarding its own qualifications. Obviously they had a field day with quips such as ‘would you like fries with that Diploma’.

There is a serious point here. The McDonalds announcement heralds a change of approach when it comes to qualifications. It is an approach that should resonate with readers of this publication as it shows a move towards being demand-driven rather than supply-led when it comes to the supply of training and development.

It coincides with the introduction of the Qualifications and Credits Framework which will allow qualifications to be built and taken in modules. This is a very big step for the logistics sector because we do not pull in our fair share of public funding. Construction brings in £131m per annum and logistics attracts just under £20m per annum yet we both employ broadly the same number of people).

One big difference between logistics and other sectors (engineering attracts even more funding and they don’t have a levy) is that in logistics there is an historic mistrust of the publicly recognised qualifications on which public funding is necessarily based. My assumption is that this is to do with the fact that the ‘one size fits all’ approach for NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) means that:

a. they are never quite right for individual employers in individual supply chains and

b. they do not cover all of the skills and competencies necessary.

This is therefore a heaven-sent opportunity for us to get it right together. We at Skills for Logistics believe that there is a skills mix underpinning The Professional Development Stairway meaning that:

l Around 70 per cent of the skills required are craft skills generic across the logistics sector, eg driving a goods vehicle.

l Around 15 per cent of the skills required are generic core skills e.g. customer service, communications and working with people.

l Around 15 per cent of the skills required are specific to the individual supply chain, eg food-handling or hazardous substances.

Currently, available qualifications such as Driving Goods Vehicle NVQ only address the craft skills but the new Qualification and Credit Framework will allow us to develop modules which cover all three of the skill types, making the resultant qualifications more relevant and therefore more acceptable to employers in individual supply chains. We are especially keen that any qualifications put together by or for individual employers reflect the above breakdown because then logistics starts to benefit from consistent but tailored qualifications.

The only way we can do this properly is to work very closely with operators on the ground in the sector. If we don’t we will perpetuate the supply-led situation.

When we consulted across the logistics sector, the two big demands were for relevance and consistency when it comes to qualifications, programmes and funding. Now is the chance to “put your money where your mouth is” (or at least a small amount of your time). We are putting together over the next few months, a series of Employer Forums to examine how we handle the craft, core and specific skills mix in individual supply chain sectors: Third Party Haulage, Food & Drink, Construction, Automotive, Chemicals & Petroleum, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare, Utilities, Clothing & Footwear, Electronics, Paper & Printing and Furniture & Removals.

If you can spare the time to be involved in those (even just by email) we would love to have your help. If you can, please contact