Game for Logistics

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Wouldn’t it be nice to see ‘logistician’ among the ten most popular careers?


How many of us got involved in games over Christmas? Trying to work out the rules of the latest game or answering endless trivia questions in an effort to get a small piece of plastic around a track on a board. Games can, however, be a valuable educational tool, especially for sparking interest in younger minds.


I recently attended the launch of one such game called “Business on the Move”, which challenges young people to run their own logistics business. The game has been developed by two former teachers, Pat Smedley and Andy Page, who have set up a social enterprise to develop the project.


The ambition of their social enterprise is to attract support from partners in the logistics and haulage sectors to help to provide schools across the UK with free copies of the board game so it becomes a platform for young people to learn how business works, to broaden their understanding of global supply chains and to raise their aspirations.


The game combines the essence of succeeding in business with acting responsibly towards the environment and players must make the same decisions businesses make every day. How do I best deliver? Will I make a profit? How should I grow? How can I cut my carbon footprint?


Skills for Logistics too has its own game – called “Made-in-China”. As I have mentioned in a previous column, this was formulated to help employers and schools come together and teach students what is involved when moving goods around the globe. In this particular case, it shows what is required to get an order of iPods from China to the UK and into our shops for sale to the public.


Researchers at London University’s Institute of Education recently asked more than 11,000 seven-year-olds what they wanted to be when they grew up. The 12 most popular occupations with seven year-olds were: teacher, scientist, hairdresser, sports player, firefighter, police officer, artist, entertainer, animal carer, vet, doctor and builder. Three-quarters of the children chose one of these jobs.


It will come as little surprise that few seven year olds wanted to be a logistics director but as children grow and their career aspirations turn more serious, they tend to look to careers that they can more easily connect with. The recent Capital One Aspire Survey found that the most popular career choice among children aged 12 to 18 years is to become a doctor. The next most popular choices are: lawyer, entrepreneur, journalist, accountant, engineer, vet, advertising/marketing/PR executive and, finally, a nurse.


People grow up with a clear basic idea about what these careers involve and most of these are now “classic” job aspirations. Even entrepreneur has become a easily recognised career ambition, perhaps thanks to TV shows such as Dragons Den and The Apprentice.


So anything that interfaces young people with logistics and helps them to understand it and to see it as a rewarding career with opportunities in their local area will help young people connect more easily with our industry. Wouldn’t it be nice to see “logistician” alongside “journalist” and “accountant” in the top ten most popular careers?


At the same time that games can help young people to further understand the comprehensive potential that the logistics industry has to offer in terms of an exciting, diverse and rewarding career, these games also help young people improve increasingly important “soft skills” for when they leave education.


Business on the Move for example can be played in teams building some important employability skills. This is more important today than ever because a first job now is more likely to be in a job where skills such as communication, team working and customer service are important.


As becomes more obvious every Christmas in the Jackson household, you need somewhere to store games. But rather than storing Made-in-China away simply to gather dust, why not place it in a “locker” as a downloadable tool alongside other resources. 


This was the thinking behind the “Logistics Locker”, recently developed by Skills for Logistics to link with the Logistics Guild. It was originally aimed at local businesses, local schools and local colleges to give people interested resources and information links.


However, with the recruitment dilemma currently facing the logistics sector, it makes sense to extend the Logistics Locker service to help people of all ages who are looking for either a career within the logistics sector or to make a personal profession change. This opens up the resources to anybody and means that the Made-in-China game is suitable for players aged between seven and 70.


Within their own private part of the Logistics Guild, members will be able to take the Logistics Locker concept even further and use their Locker as a record of their competences, and qualifications – but more of that in a future column.


-Mick Jackson

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