In fairly equal measures, Skills for Logistics has been criticised over the years by some of the sector opinion formers for having too much of a focus on operatives at the expense of management and by others for focusing too much on managers at the expense of operatives.
Apart from the fairly trite observation that this means we have probably got the balance about right, such observations do lead to the view that the most important focus should be on bridging operatives and management.
A basic premise behind the design of the Professional Development Stairway is that an enormous gap exists between operatives and the start of the management ladder in logistics. The stairway itself goes some way to reducing that gap and its use as the basis for qualifications and programmes will make it easier for people to move into junior management positions as they exit the ‘operative zone’ at step five and enter the ‘junior/middle management zone’ at step six.
Arguably the most important qualification in this respect is the foundation degree in logistics. A foundation degree offers people in work the chance to develop themselves through a vocational degree programme aimed specifically at the logistics sector.
The foundation degree also gives people the chance to progress on to higher education, honours and masters degrees, but the key aspect is that it is relevant to their work.
Employers consulted across the sector have emphasised the need for all qualifications to be both relevant to logistics practitioners and consistent in their make-up and delivery across the UK.
The recently approved foundation degree framework for logistics delivers both relevance and consistency. The relevance is provided by blending generic management and leadership content with very detailed operational content through use of ‘The Logistics Skills Onion’* which breaks down management in the sector according to the supply chains, modes of transport used and logistics functions employed.
Logistics is a function which is carried out all over the UK and, especially at management level, there is a fair degree of movement as people transfer from one facility to another or from one contract to another. Consistency is therefore a key factor because if moving sites means having to ditch a course and take another then the foundation degree is not serving the industry well.
While a major selling point of foundation degrees is that they allow a high degree (sorry) of tailoring to take place, a key demand from employers on the logistics steering group was for there to be a very high proportion of the foundation degree generic across logistics rather than specific to an individual company.
So the foundation degree framework for logistics places great emphasis on its relevance to both employers and employees in the sector but also ensures that the qualification achieved is transferable across the sector and able to be delivered consistently in each region of England, and ultimately Wales and Northern Ireland.
The framework is in place, and any providers of foundation degrees will need to follow that framework. The planned National Logistics Academy structure will then be used to ensure that a consistent foundation degree is made available.
Over fifty large and small employers and stakeholders have worked closely with us to ensure that the framework covers what is needed. All we have to do now is get the foundation degrees going and bridge that enormous gap between operatives and management. Then maybe we can please more of the people more of the time.
- For further information on ‘The Logistics Skills Onion’ refer to the foundation degree framework at www.skillsforlogistics.org/standards/foundation-degree