Ladies and Gentlemen – The Three Sectors: Mick Jackson

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We’ve been looking at three sectors that keep the British economy ‘singing’ – Manufacturing (great past, uncertain future), Construction (building for the future) and Logistics (enabling both the others to function at all).

These three sectors alone account for almost a quarter of the UK workforce, with manufacturing employing nine per cent, construction eight per cent and logistics six per cent.

Sadly, there is no room in the column for graphs but if we compare those figures with the proportion of public funding for training in each sector, we have logistics with six per cent of the workforce attracting 3.5 per cent of funded trainee places, construction (eight per cent) attracting 18 per cent of places and manufacturing (nine per cent) attracting a whopping 23 per cent of funded training places.

The situation is made even worse when tariffs are taken into account as most programmes in construction and manufacturing attract up to 60 per cent more funds due to the ‘more dangerous’ elements in their workplace (along with hairdressing due to chemicals sometimes used). It’s lucky that driving a 44 tonne truck on congested roads surrounded by members of the public is not considered dangerous.

Clearly this needs attention but we also need to probe why this situation has arisen. If we look at the construction and manufacturing sectors, they both have a tradition of apprenticeships and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) firmly embedded throughout companies in those sectors. Both sectors have examples of ‘learning the trade’.

In the logistics sector, we do not have that ‘craft’ tradition. What is worse, in many cases, logistics companies eschew the whole idea of NVQs, indeed of any public qualifications, preferring instead to “just concentrate on competence”. Obviously competence is paramount but the lack of acknowledgement of NVQs has led to a pitifully meagre set of publicly available qualifications, which has led in turn to very low take-up, which has led in turn to few transferable qualifications, which has led in turn to no career framework, which has in turn contributed to a poor image for the sector.

This is a typical vicious circle which we at Skills for Logistics are trying hard to break with The Professional Development Stairway. We will only do this by putting in the infrastructure necessary to make Continuous Professional Development easy to access and subsidised where possible from public funds.

To do this, we have as an industry to accept the ground rules, that is, embrace NVQs. If we don’t, it’s a bit like wanting to play in the Premiership without recognising the FA rules of football. We certainly can’t then complain if nobody kicks the ball to us.

We have started on the journey to influence government bodies to direct public policy and funding to where we, as an industry need it. The vehicle for this is something called The Logistics Skills Agreement which is, in effect a Service Level Agreement between you, as the customer, and the suppliers represented by the government and the training providers.

This provides a one-off chance to get it right, to get logistics its just desserts but we need to visibly capture your support for the agreement. Quite properly, the government will only act on evidence. Please take the opportunity to go to and read the (very brief) vision and put your name electronically to the document.

Contact Mick Jackson at Skills for Logistics.


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