A Christmas skills message

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The logistics sector will need 588,000 additional workers by 2020

As Christmas is a time to both review and look forward, it presents me with a great opportunity, having taken on the role of CEO of Skills for Logistics, to set out how we intend to Attract, Develop and Support people and companies in the logistics industry.

Our sector needs 588,000 additional workers between 2014 and 2020; employers report that many people seeking jobs are not “work ready”; some 41 per cent of industry workers do not hold a level 2 qualification; and almost half of logistics companies do not fund or arrange staff training.

SfL’s purpose is to get job seekers into work and satisfy the demand for people in the logistics sector – particularly in those hard to fill positions. This means we are not in competition with sector bodies and management organisations. To “Attract” talent and challenge the misconception that logistics lacks great career opportunities, SfL is connecting local employers to schools and colleges through initiatives such as “Made in China”, The Logistics Locker and The Skills Calculator, to ensure that young people are aware of the exciting opportunities that a career in logistics offers.

We must also reach out to other parts of the labour market such as the military, the long-term unemployed, people looking to return to the labour market and ex-offenders to help get them into logistics jobs. A great example is the successful Military Work Placement Scheme pilot, which, having finished last August, provided 1,000 work placements and secured over 100 jobs. The 2,264 applications it received revealed a huge demand.

When it comes to “Develop”, SfL is about bridging the gap between being qualified or available for a job and being work ready. Interviewees are often not work ready, employers tell us. So SfL, together with Beyond2030, established a Jobs Club development programme providing opportunities for jobs in the logistics-centric areas of Rugby and Nuneaton. In 2013, 200 people completed the programme and were given access to pre-employment training. Over 100 people received mentoring from employers and, to date, many previously long-term unemployed people have secured permanent jobs.

Because the logistics sector has historically lacked a career progression route, SfL created the Professional Development Stairway (PDS) to provide a common platform for employers, employees and partners to understand and manage career development opportunities. The PDS supports people seeking work in the sector (and advisers) to highlight suitable entry points; promotes the sector as one that offers a varied and interesting career; and supports those already working in the sector to show career and progression opportunities.

SfL is also helping employers to access the training they need. We are working with employers, colleges and training providers to help identify and connect employer training needs to education and training provision. The Logistics Guild is building relationships with training and education providers to ensure there is support for the skill needs of employers and that employers are signposted to the most appropriate provision.

The final element of our tripartite message is “Support” for employers, individuals and partners. We can bring together employers, local authorities, LEPs, schools, colleges, and other organisations to tackle this. We are also securing employer match funding for a range of our current projects. Effective employer networks are an important lever for harnessing and increasing employer investment in skills and overcoming common barriers such as lack of awareness of skills needs, difficulty in accessing learning and training provision and problems related to the costs of training.

To increase the sector’s attractiveness among local talent pools, SfL has established Local Logistics Community Networks (LLCNs). Through these we can engage employers and training providers, ensuring that employer demands are articulated and relevant training is available through a local network of quality assured training providers. LLCNs will also bring together organisations to aid recruitment into the sector.

Anyone who works in the sector can also find support through The Logistics Guild. This shared resource, run for and by its members, is free and no qualifications are required to become a member and gain access to ideas, support, guidance, development and jobs.

We are also developing a Credit Union for the Logistics Sector, which will provide a source of funding or a way of indirectly reducing the cost of training to businesses.

SfL’s research and intelligence underpins all of this work by helping us, as well as employers, partners and government – both local and national – to understand the logistics sector.

This summarises what Skills for Logistics is about and I look forward to leveraging our capabilities and working in partnership with the sector to help make the UK the best logistics centre in the world.

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