Money, Money, Money : Mick Jackson

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As part of its drive to address the skill shortages that contribute to UK plc’s dismal comparative performance on the international stage, the government has set targets to reduce the number of people working in England, without at least a Level 2 qualification (the equivalent of five grade C GCSEs) by 40 per cent by 2010.

2010 is now less than three years away. For business, that is less than one normal corporate planning cycle away. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the funding body on whom that responsibility falls has certainly got its work cut out if those figures are to be achieved.

What do these figures mean to the logistics sector? If we take just two occupations: LGV drivers and warehouse operatives, then we at Skills for Logistics estimate conservatively that there are currently, in 2007, 272,000 of the former and 345,000 of the latter without at least a Level 2 qualification.

This in turn means that in the 32 months between now and 2010 we have to find 161,000 qualifications for drivers and warehouse operatives if that particular target is to be met. I can hear the response now along the lines that this is just another crackpot government target which if it’s not met is LSC’s problem not ours.

The problem however is ours in that the government is making funds available through an initiative called Train to Gain to deliver this training. Delivery of the 161,000 necessary qualifications comes with a price tag and therefore funding of £290 million. I’ll spell it out – that is TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY MILLION POUNDS, that can find its way into the logistics sector over the next few years.

There must be a catch I hear you say. Regular readers of this column may be able to predict the ‘catch’, especially those that recall my rantings about the fact that the construction and engineering sectors get two and three times their “fair share” of public funding while logistics gets under half of its share.

The ‘catch’ if you want to call it that is that to get the funding, companies in the sector have to recognise public vocational qualifications, something widely recognised in construction and engineering but not among logistics companies who prefer to focus on competencies rather than qualifications. So if we sit back and continue with that outlook, the quarter of a billion pounds plus will find its way into those and other similar sectors.

From our point of view, the additional self-respect and professionalism that our employees will feel from having publicly recognised qualifications that show where they are on the career framework is a big step towards improving the image of the sector and is one that responsible employers should willingly take.

So the choice is yours, recognise the qualifications, contact the Train to Gain team and get a share of the funding or carry on as we are and watch it all go to construction, engineering, and leisure centre operations.

Should you choose the ‘no brainer’ route, a Train to Gain broker will visit your organisation, carry out a free of charge Training Needs Analysis and point you to the necessary training programmes. Where they qualify for funding, the funds are there.

Logistics is considered to be a ‘Level 2 friendly’ sector which simply means we have a large and well-defined need for such qualifications. It doesn’t very often happen that there is a need from industry, a target from the Government and funds to bring the two together. In this case there is – let’s not waste it.

l If you would like to know more about Train to Gain please contact

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