Why not give the local a try?

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We need to recruit nearly half a million new people into logistics.

Regular readers of this column will know that I have been banging on for some time about how important it is for logistics employers to engage with their local community. As the economy starts to grow and we move beyond the looming Driver CPC deadline of September 2014 we know we are going to have to recruit nearly half a million new people into the sector.

The talent pool that will provide those people lies in local communities but it is not just sitting there waiting for the call to go and work in logistics. In most places where logistics takes place there are alternatives to working in logistics at every level. Our competitors include shops, hotels, bars, restaurants, hospitals and care homes. Any of those in the area where you’re based? If the answer is yes then you have ready-made competition for new recruits.

At Skills for Logistics we have developed the concept of Local Logistics Community Networks or LLCNs, which really do what their name suggests. Where clusters of logistics activity take place, then we look to group those employers together and make it easier and more effective for them to get “first pickings” of good, job-ready recruits.

We have piloted the LLCNs at a number of locations around the UK, notably in Daventry and Belshill. In both these locations, logistics is a key employer, employing a much higher proportion of the local workforce than the national average of eight per cent. We have more to follow in Leicestershire, Manchester and South Yorkshire.

So what is an LLCN? It is a group of logistics employers who work together to ensure that the message about logistics as a job and a career gets out to the various new talent groups across their catchment area. We tend to think about schools as the main source of new talent and it is certain that local employers can get a much stronger message across to schools in their area than careers people can – simply because we know what the sector is – we know what it can offer.

So we have developed the Logistics Locker, a toolkit that can be used by those employers to get the message across in the schools. We are working closely with other initiatives such as Think Logistics and making the most of social networking to get the message across in a user-friendly way.

However, we would be wrong to think one-dimensionally about schools – they are only one source of new talent so LLCNs look at colleges, universities, military installations, prisons, job centres, disadvantaged youths with organisations such as Princes Trust etc.

We have run successful pilots of Job Clubs and mentoring so that we, as a sector can offer enough to aspiring recruits to make us employers of choice in the local area.

Our focus on local has been matched across England by the establishment of 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships, which represent working partnerships between local authorities and other bodies.

A key requirement for the LEPs is that they engage with local businesses to ensure that they meet their needs. In Daventry, the LLCN has a good working relationship with its local LEP, South East Midlands. The key here is the development of local solutions to meet local needs.

One third of the 39 LEPs have logistics as one of their key economic priorities. We are in contact with all of them.

For the remaining 26 LEPs, the message is simple – no matter what your local economic priorities, you need a suitably skilled local logistics workforce to deliver on the promises so we are in contact with them as well.

A large proportion of the half a million recruits we need to find are not management. Managers are relatively mobile and people will move to further their careers. Despite the efforts of Norman Tebbitt in the 1980s, people working in blue collar logistics roles want to at least start their careers locally – so that’s where we need to get our messages across.

LEPs need to engage with local employers. As a sector, we need to speak to LEPs with a single voice. If we don’t, our competitors will and they’ll clean up. So, for the sake of the sector, let’s get local and let’s get some good recruits.

l If you would like to know more about the potential offered by LLCNs please email: LLCNS@skillsforlogistics.org

About Skills for Logistics

Skills for Logistics is the Sector Skills Council for the freight logistics and wholesaling sector. SfL works alongside companies in the UK that are involved in moving, handling, storing and wholesale of goods. SfL is licensed by the government to tackle the skills and productivity needs of employers in the logistics and supply chain sector.

SfL’s mission is to enable employers in the logistics sector to gain competitive advantage by developing workforce skills. It also aims to deliver a more productive and efficient low carbon UK logistics sector.

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