Come to a supply chain forum: Mick Jackson

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When Skills for Logistics commissioned widespread research to find the issues of concern regarding training for the logistics sector, the two demands that kept being made were for training and qualifications to be relevant and consistent around the UK.

These demands came back time and time again, from small, medium and very large players, from warehousing companies and hauliers and from Aberdeen to Truro to Dover.

It has also been made clear to us many times that the ‘vanilla, one size fits all’ approach with NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) is also not what companies want. This has contributed to the uptake of public funding opportunities, aimed at these qualifications being a fraction of that in other sectors such as construction (under two per cent compared to over 13 per cent on a like for like basis).

The way in which qualifications are developed in the UK is changing and, in England and Wales in particular, Skills for Logistics is able to tailor fundable qualifications to meet the needs of companies working in the sector much more closely.

Our work with employers to date suggests that around 70 per cent of the skills required to work in the logistics industry are craft skills in other words, the technical knowledge you need to work effectively as a driver or a warehouse operative. Another 15 per cent of the required skills mix is made up of core skills which are the behavioural skills such as customer service and communications which are necessary to make sure that the craft skills are applied effectively in the workplace.

This approximately 85 per cent of the skills mix should then be more or less the same across the logistics sector, irrespective of the part of UK industry that is being served.

However, the remaining 15 per cent or so of the skills mix needs to focus on the specific skills necessary to work effectively in individual supply chains, for example food handling skills in the Food & Drink supply chain.

To ensure that these specific skill modules are relevant and therefore effective, we need help from real practitioners in each supply chain so that they are credible. We can produce these qualifications by locking our skills development team in a room in Milton Keynes until they produce them but we would quite rightly be pilloried for ‘missing the mark’.

To put it in the language of the industry, without direct help from you as practitioners, the training supply industry will continue to provide qualifications and programmes that are supply led rather than demand driven.

Regular readers will know that at Skills for Logistics we divide the sector up into 12 supply chains: Automotive, Chemical & Petroleum, Clothing & Footwear, Construction, Electronics & Electrical, Food & Drink, Furniture & Furnishings, Paper & Printing, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare, Utilities, Third Party Logistics, Military.

If you work in one of those supply chains, either on an own account or a third party basis, whether in warehousing or transport, we need your help.

Taking part in one of our supply chain forums should not be too onerous. While there will need to be some physical meetings, we intend to make as much use of email correspondence as possible to gather your views.

If through the process you decide that there is no need for a specific module for your supply chain, we are working with the main logistics trade associations to develop more generic qualifications which go across, for instance third party logistics.

All of this means that we at Skills for Logistics can ensure that through use of The Professional Development Stairway as both the careers framework and the basis for these new qualifications, we can ensure transferability of qualifications across the logistics sector while ensuring that they are not completely ‘one size fits all’.

If you think you are able to help with this challenging initiative and make a real difference to the logistics sector, please call Elaine Dimond on 01908 313360.

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