Driver shortages are pushing logistics towards unprecedented crisis

Pall-Ex Group has joined other leading logistics businesses in highlighting the crisis the industry faces as a result of crippling driver shortages.

As the average age of HGV drivers in the UK continues to increase, currently standing at 56, and fewer young people enter the industry, Pall-Ex Group shareholder member businesses are struggling to find drivers to carry out collections and deliveries in a time when demand for such services has increased significantly.

The skills gap and the resulting climate has resulted in a situation where stock shortages of household items and grocery essentials are already being seen and has been described as a “perfect storm” by Paul Sanders, Chairman of the Association of Pallet Networks (APN) in an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Pall-Ex Group operates two pallet networks in the UK, Pall-Ex and Fortec, and independent haulage businesses are shareholder members of each network.

These members are facing the challenge head on to continue to deliver sector leading levels of service for customers across the UK.

When surveyed, 74% of Pall-Ex Group members said that they were affected by driver shortages every single day, and 100% said that the situation was causing their business to suffer.

One such member is Pall-Ex shareholder member STD Developments Limited of Congleton, Cheshire, and Managing Director, Craig Stevens, has explained the impact the driver shortage is having on his business.

He comments: “We are finding it hard to continue to deliver the quality service we have built our reputation on. It is something that our customers and fellow network members now expect from us.

“If things carry on the way they are going, profits will start to drop and we will be forced to increase our prices, as will all other transport businesses. This will have a massive impact on the price of goods purchased in the UK.”

Asked about how he believes the shortage can be rectified, Craig continues: “There needs to be a greater incentive for young people to get into driving HGVs.

“Providing support with the cost of training and forcing insurance companies to cover new drivers would be a step in the right direction to solving the problem.”

Mirroring the sentiment shared by Craig and the team at STD Developments, Fortec Shareholder member Brocklehurst Transport Ltd is also experiencing the challenges brought about by the driver shortage.

Dave Webster, Managing Director of Brocklehurst Transport Ltd, comments: “If nothing changes, we will have to park our trucks up. We will not be able to operate as a business.

“To improve the situation, I’d like to see a relaxation of the CPC regulations allowing drivers, whose certification has lapsed, to come back into the business and have 12 months grace to complete refresher training.”

In addition, Dave continues: “The Government needs to encourage insurance companies to lower the minimum age from 25 to 21, as this means so many more talented young drivers can enter the industry. This would be a massive help!”

Kevin Buchanan is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pall-Ex Group and has been a member of the transport industry for over 30 years, in which time he has held various positions, both managerial and operational.

With his wealth of experience, he understands how important skilled drivers are to the logistics industry as a whole, as well as Pall-Ex Group and its members.

He comments: “As an industry, we are facing one of the greatest challenges of a generation.

“The combination of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the driver shortage that has been an ever-increasing threat for several years.

“Drivers having to isolate and those who have chosen to leave the industry because of covid, as well as a vastly reduced talent pool thanks to most European drivers no longer having freedom of movement into the UK has seen the number of skilled drivers fall off a cliff in the last 18 months.”

Stressing the importance of action, Kevin says: “The government must act immediately to protect the supply chain that has kept Britain moving for the last 18 months.

“The government has always been slow to recognise the transport sector as a key industry in this country. But now, more than ever, it is vital that it does not neglect the heroes who were hailed as key workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, who transported everything from life-saving medical supplies to toilet roll. That simply cannot be allowed to happen.”

Pall-Ex Group is the latest leading transport business to call on the government to save the industry and put urgent measures in place to prevent a crisis.

For more information about driving opportunities within Pall-Ex Group, please visit

Pathway to Excellence for Pall-Ex Group Employees

Pall-Ex Group has invested in its future leaders, as the logistics giant launches a management degree programme in partnership with University Centre Quayside.

An initiative which has seen the business invest over £200,000, the programme has seen 10 members of staff from across the Pall-Ex Group of Companies selected to complete the three year course.

Having advertised the role to all staff from both its pallet networks, Pall-Ex and Fortec, as well as the four Owned Operations throughout the UK, candidates were interviewed and selected by Pall-Ex Group senior management.

The UCQ Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) combines a BA (Hons) Professional Management degree (validated by The Open University) with the CMI Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership.

The skills and knowledge acquired by those on the course will help them to develop further in their current roles and allow them to take on more senior roles in years to come. Of course, this will also benefit Pall-Ex Group, as talent is nurtured within to support the business as it continually strives to deliver excellence across all areas of its operation.

Staff from a variety of business roles have been selected to enrol on the course to ensure that the talent in all areas of the business has the opportunity to shine.

Ellie Harman, who recently completed her apprenticeship with Pall-Ex, is a Customer Service Administrator and James Barston, a Business Development Manager with Pall-Ex Group, are just two of the staff members on the course.

The other successful applicants were Joe Murfitt, Central Hub Operations Manager; Samantha Newton, International Operations Manager; Stuart White, General Manager – Operations at Fortec; Lauren Pullin, Corporate Commercial Analyst; Adrian Craven, Member Support Co-ordinator; Laura Brown, Network Compliance Manager and Nick Antill-Holmes, also a Network Compliance Manager.

Chris Churchill was the final successful candidate, based at Pall-Ex’s Owned Operation, Shears Bros (Transport) Ltd, he is Network Manager at the Bournemouth based business.

The program will now be a feature of Pall-Ex Group’s business strategy moving forward, with new places available each year, as the company continues along its pathway to excellence.

Barry Byers, Managing Director – UK Business Units at Pall-Ex Group initiated the process of implementing the course, and has been the driving force behind its implementation.

He comments: “I have always appreciated the importance of nurturing talent within a business, retaining those people and helping them become leaders.

“The opportunity we have been able to provide for this group of people signifies Pall-Ex Group’s commitment to supporting its staff.

“By ensuring we are continually providing opportunities for development, we are securing the future success of our business.”

Kevin Buchanan, Pall-Ex Group CEO, continues to explain why the decision was taken to provide this opportunity for staff across the business.

Echoing Barry’s comments, he said: “We recognise that our most important asset is our people. Their skills and abilities are a fantastic resource which we want to nurture as this will only benefit both the company and the individuals.

“We want people to be able to join our organisation at any level and know that their achievements when working in the Group are only limited by their own ambitions and efforts. Developing our talent from within will only make us an even stronger business.

“This significant investment which Pall-Ex Group has made highlights our commitment to achieving excellence now and, in the years to come, as we aim to become the leading palletised freight distribution network in Europe and beyond and become the employer of choice.

“The people working hard to complete this course and those who follow in their footsteps will be at the forefront of ensuring we achieve this objective.”

Pall-Ex Group continues to invest in its future, with new appointments in recent months further strengthening its position in the logistics sector.

The Group has seen its shareholder membership grow in the last 12 months, as its unique offering proves to be a success.

Click here to learn how Pall-Ex Group is working with its shareholder members, customers and staff alike to achieve excellence.

PD Ports Announces Partnership With Tees Valley Education Trust To ‘Level Up’ Learning Opportunities

PD Ports, Statutory Harbour Authority for the River Tees and the largest private employer in the Tees Valley, has joined forces with the Tees Valley Education Multi-Academy Trust, to create an Enterprise Charter for children and young people across Teesside.

This shared commitment to do more for the region’s young people will see PD Ports and Tees Valley Education Trust, along with other key partners and stakeholders, including Teesside University, work together to develop career-led learning opportunities from primary years to post 18.

After recently launching the most ambitious recruitment drive in the UK ports sector in which the port operator set out plans to recruit 50 new apprentices across its operations, PD Ports is now accelerating its commitment to raising aspirations, and inspiring young people from age five upwards about maritime careers and promoting local pride linked to the River Tees.

Kirsten Donkin, Head of PR, Marketing and Communications at PD Ports, explained how the partnership has been part of the port operator’s plans since the successful launch of PD Ports’ innovative Teesport Explorers program in 2019.

“At PD Ports we already do a tremendous amount of work to raise aspirations of young people,” said Kirsten. “We work closely and collaboratively with local education institutions and training providers such as the High Tide Foundation and the Tees Valley Logistics Academy to inform 12-18 year olds of the range of exciting opportunities available across the maritime industry.

“However, we also recognise that by the age of 14, young people have already conditioned themselves to believe there are certain jobs they can do and those which they can’t; many of which are based around gender stereotypes and family influences. We must do more to tackle these misplaced perceptions.

“That was our initial thought process behind launching the Teesport Explorers program – getting young people down to the port to see our operations and meet our people. It’s all about providing consistent engagement throughout childhood and into early adulthood in order to ignite their imagination and show them if they believe it, they can achieve it when choosing a career.

“The is a huge sense of positivity in our region at the moment, the future prospects around investment and jobs are very encouraging and with a projected 32,000 jobs associated with Freeport status over the next 25 years, we need to ensure local people are aware of the opportunities and are equipped with the right skills to benefit.

“We share in those values and thought processes with the Tees Valley Education Trust and now look forward to working together to give young people in our region the futures they deserve; putting ‘levelling up in to action and bridging any future skills gaps.”

Tees Valley Education is a Multi-Academy Trust and sponsor, which is currently made up of five academies across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, who share a deep commitment to improving outcomes for all children and their communities.

CEO of the Trust, Katrina Morley, explained how she believes the partnership with PD Ports will deliver real value to primary school pupils across the region.
“By working in collaboration with the biggest employer in the region, and Teesside University, we are able to construct a variety of curriculum, skills, experiential and project-based learning for all of our children and young people,” said Katrina.

“The ability to learn about real world employment opportunities, visit a range of sites, experience being at the forefront of the exciting investment in the area, will have long lasting impact on the life chances, aspirations and choices for all.

“The shared commitment we have to investing in our communities is being realised through the project which will support Year 1 children to adults. Children hold the keys to the future… but we must help them to unlock a range of possibilities with them.”

In April, PD Ports secured a £2000 donation for the Tees Valley Education Trust after winning the NEPIC Communities and Reputation Award and donating its winnings to kick-start the Enterprise Charter.

PD Ports was commended at the prestigious awards for its outstanding demonstration of community support and social responsibility throughout 2020.

RHA Leads Call for Action with Logistics on the Ropes

Road Haulage Association (RHA) has written a letter calling on Government to address the driver shortage amid evidence from ONS that transportation and storage is in crisis. The RHA letter cites the double blow of COVID and Brexit along with complications caused by IR35 in exacerbating the already difficult position of hauliers.

The letter decries ‘the long-term ineffectiveness of apprenticeships for lorry drivers and the general hostility from authorities and Government towards lorries and road transport in general’, while emphasising that ‘there is a need for tangible short-term urgent actions’ to confront the shortage.

The strong wording of the letter reflects the disturbing nature of statistics appearing in the ONS report. A staggering 9.6% of transportation and storage companies have now reportedly closed their doors permanently, with 15% temporarily shuttered. Even the accommodation and food service and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, which many feared would bear the worst brunt of the COVID slump, have weathered the crisis far better. Although a great proportion of hospitality and arts businesses have seen a downturn in revenue, numbers going under have been significantly lower, with only 0.3% of arts businesses permanently closed. While the resilience of these businesses is impressive, the stark contrast to logistics firms shows how vulnerable the sector is to shocks.

Some voices in the sector have related the present difficulties directly to Brexit. While COVID appears to have contributed greatly to the downturn in other sectors of the economy, the problems presented by Brexit are of particular concern for hauliers, given that the sector is intimately affected by any issues with import/export. ONS’ report that ‘the proportions of businesses experiencing challenges in importing and exporting are broadly unchanged since January 2021’ is disheartening, since it underlines the ongoing nature of a problem that some feel should have been resolved already.

But along with the short-term difficulties presented by Brexit and COVID there are also longer-term issues which need to be faced.

The RHA letter takes pains to draw links between the two. Prime among the RHA letter’s recommendations for addressing the crisis is a rethinking of the way the administration values skills. RHA asserts, ‘Current Government policy in this area, to ban a skilled job from the Shortage Occupation List because of random and notional academic standards, is defective.’

The letter places such policy amid a wider context of dismissiveness and disrespect towards the essential work done by those in the sector. Whitehall is not alone in coming under fire for this; the letter also cites undervaluing by local authorities and hostility from the education sector towards apprenticeships as obstacles to resolving the crisis. Ultimately, a society-wide shift in the way undervalued essential workers seems to be on the agenda. The question is, will it happen?

RHA is asking you to do two very quick things.

  1. Complete this very short and focused survey to show how the shortage of drivers is impacting your business. All information collected will be kept confidential and used to provide an overview of the industry and not that of individual companies. 
  2. Increase pressure on Government by using this quick and easy tool to request your local MP to write to Government and support these asks. A letter has already been written for you, all you need to do is enter a few brief details and the letter will be sent immediately on your behalf.

The UK is about to experience a catastrophic HGV driver shortage for the first time in 20 years and we must brace ourselves for impact

Driver Require has just released its latest Report – a comprehensive investigation into “A Perfect Storm of Elevated Demand and Reduced Supply in the UK Haulage Sector in 2021”, which has brought together a panel of haulage sector experts to validate its workings and conclusions through a series of workshops, named the Think Tank.

With representatives from the REC, Logistics UK, Think Logistics, Road to Logistics, haulage and distribution operators including grocery suppliers, a statistics expert, a national fleet hire supplier and an established HGV driver training school, the Think Tank has concluded that haulage activity has recently returned to pre-pandemic levels, and there is demand for approximately 300,000 HGV drivers, and that this is likely to increase throughout the remainder of 2021. It also anticipates that further pressure will come from HGV drivers taking vacation over the school summer holiday period. 

Driver Require has been tracking the UK’s HGV driver shortage issue for a number of years prior to the Coronavirus outbreak and then more closely as we progressed through the pandemic. Our findings show that, prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the haulage sector was already suffering from a chronic low-level shortage of HGV drivers that became severe in times of rapid uplift in requirements or during seasonal peak demand. Previously, the sector had relied heavily on EU HGV drivers to avoid a supply crisis in the event of a rapid increase in demand.

Driver Require’s Report concludes that the impact of the Pandemic on HGV driver supply is that the “most likely” shortage scenario is a 22,000 (7%) drop, rising to a worst case drop of 30,000 (10%). This drop in supply was caused by:

  • Reduced inflow of new HGV drivers due to restricted HGV training capacity during lockdowns.
  • Increased outflow of HGV drivers due to:
    • Retirement of HGV drivers.
    • EU HGV drivers leaving the UK because of COVID-19 and subsequently implementation of IR35 reforms in the Private Sector.
    • Drivers seeking other careers due to poor pay and conditions.

The conclusion of this analysis is that the “most likely” impending deficit position will be a shortage of 22,000 HGV drivers, which could increase to as many as 50,000 if supply worsens and demand exceeds expectations.

The Government’s points-based immigration rules effectively prevent EU drivers coming to the UK to offset this deficit, leading the Think Tank to conclude that this could be the first time in 20 years that the UK is likely to experience a true HGV driver shortage, along with potentially serious consequences for the UK’s economic recovery.

The Report’s author, Driver Require’s CEO, Kieran Smith says “As a temporary recruiter, we are at the coalface of the impending, predicted crisis but it will be our clients and ultimately businesses and consumers who rely on the movement of goods across the UK who will pay the greatest price. We believe that, as a sector, we have a responsibility to take action and alert the wider community to the possibility of a driver shortage crisis. We need to raise the profile of this issue, dispel common perceptions and provide industry key influencers and decision-makers the opportunity to act to secure the UK’s economic recovery.”

The report proposes actions to mitigate against the impact of this impending HGV driver supply crisis. It specifically looks at:

  • How to increase HGV driver training capacity and throughput.
  • How to attract back UK HGV licence-holders who are not currently driving for a career.
  • The possibility of permitting EU HGV drivers to enter the UK for work.

Smith states, “Our Report acknowledges that most of these actions will have limited effect in the short-term. Nevertheless, it reinforces that these initiatives should be progressed as quickly as possible if they are to have any chance of mitigating the medium to longer-term impact of the shortage crisis. In the interim, competition over a depleted available HGV driver workforce will force up driver pay rates, initially in the agency market and eventually across the permanent driver pool.”

Smith, quoted last week in the Financial Times, said that “analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics showed a “catastrophic decline” over the past 20 years in the number of qualified HGV drivers staying in an industry where nearly a third of the 300,000 drivers are over 55 and heading for retirement. “We’ve got this cohort of 150,000 drivers over 50 heading into retirement and behind that group is a severely depleted workforce. There’s not a great deal we can do in the short term except brace ourselves for impact,”.

DVSA Launches New Version of Safe Driving for Life Website

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has launched a brand-new Safe Driving for Life website – which goes live today (Wednesday 28 April). The new site includes exciting new features to help your pupils pass their theory test first time. And it will provide valuable information for road users throughout their driving lifetime.

Here, they will share plans to officially launch the website to learner drivers and their family and friends later this Spring.

How the site works

The site has replaced the existing Safe Driving for Life site, keeping popular content such as the free practice theory tests, the shop and blogs, with the addition of new content and features to the site.

The new site includes loads of free information for your pupils, including practice theory tests, a traffic signs quiz, practice hazard perception tests, plus loads of helpful advice.

The site will also replace the DVSA Learning Zone which will be merged into the Safe Driving for Life website.

If any of your pupils have an existing Learning Zone subscription with 3 months or less to go, they will continue their theory test revision on the current DVSA Learning Zone. This will ensure they do not lose their progress.  DVSA are unable to transfer their progress across to the new site.

Anyone with a 12-month subscription will be emailed clear instructions on how to move to the new site so that they can start using the new features.

DVSA will directly contact everyone with an existing Learning Zone subscription to explain what this means to them.

Exciting new features

The new site has a refreshed look and feel and is easier to navigate to help you and your pupils find the content you’re looking for.

Initially DVSA have worked on designing new features for car learner drivers as they learn for a longer period of time and work closely with their instructor. Most motorists will take a car test before taking a test in any other category and what they learn from learning to drive a car will form their base road user knowledge and understanding.

Car test candidates will now be able to share their theory test revision progress with their driving instructor through the website. DVSA are hoping to make this feature available to you and your pupils in the future.

There’s a new test readiness tool that shows your pupil when they’re ready to take their theory test.  It does this by monitoring their knowledge and understanding over time. This feature is now available for your pupils to use.

These features were developed using learning science and feedback from ADIs, who said these features would help them to plan lessons.

The learning experience simulates the real test environment so your pupil will become familiar with, and prepared for, the actual event.

The site will use time and repetition to check your pupils’ knowledge and understanding. It will also ask your pupil questions about their worst performing areas.

DVSA have grouped topics together and split each topic into a study section and practice section. That way, you and your pupil can monitor progress and you’ll know when they’re ready for their test using the ‘test readiness’ tool.

Testing new features

DVSA want to make sure the new features work for driving instructors and their pupils. So, DVSA are working with NASP and a small group of driving instructor volunteers and their pupils to test the new functionality in a live training environment.

DVSA will share this feedback with you as soon as they can. They will also use this feedback to design and develop future features for trainee vocational drivers and trainers.

Advertise on the new site

If you’re interested in advertising on the site you can contact for more information or to request a media pack.

What’s next

DVSA will be contacting everyone with a theory test booking to let them know about the new site and explain how they can use the learning modules to track their progress and know when they are ready to take their theory test.

Strictly business for Shears’ new Business Development Manager

Logistics and ballroom dancing are not two things you usually see in the same sentence, but for Shears Bros (Transport) Ltd’s new Business Development Manager, Julie Mudd, the two go hand in hand.

Julie, who has competed in various amateur dance championships around the UK, including those held in the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom, will use her competitive drive to her advantage away from the dancefloor in her new role with the Bournemouth-based logistics company.

With a wide-ranging career in logistics, Julie brings more than 20 years’ experience from her roles in international shipping, the parcel industry and hazardous freight as she steps into the pallet distribution sector.

Shears, an Owned Operation of Pall-Ex (UK) Ltd, has seen significant growth in recent years after solidifying its position in the Bournemouth area.

Since arriving in early 2021, Julie has been looking for long-term service solutions for customers, further enhancing the portfolio of clients for the business.

There are several tools in Julie’s arsenal which, with her expansive experience, will mean she is well equipped to support local businesses with their unique requirements.

Shears offers a range of services including pallet storage, pick and pack, same day delivery, full and part trailer loads, hazardous freight and parcel deliveries.

In addition to this, the business also offers leading UK and International palletised freight distribution as part of the Pall-Ex network.

When asked about what attracted her to the role with Shears, Julie explains that it was the team and the range of services that really interested her.

She comments: “The first thing that struck me about Shears was the team and its approach to work.

“Most members of staff are long-standing employees who know the business inside out and really care about providing the best possible service for our customers – That’s really important to me.

“I am really excited to make full use of the service offering available here at Shears to ensure we deliver solutions that support and fulfil our customers’ needs.”

Paul Bulpitt is General Manager of Shears and reflecting on Julie’s appointment, he echoes her observations about the team and the range of services on offer.

Paul comments: “Shears continues to develop its range of services to suit the evolving needs of its customers in the Bournemouth area.

“The team is made up of some fantastic people who work hard every day to ensure our customers receive the high levels of customer service the business is renowned for.

“I have every confidence that Julie will continue to work well with the rest of the team and further support Shears’ growth over the coming months.”

Shears continues to offer European distribution services with minimal service disruption, in-spite of the challenges brought about by Brexit. For more information about International or any other services, please visit:

Incentive Payments For Hiring A New Apprentice

Education & Skills Funding Agency has updated its latest guidance (last update 7 April 2021) for incentive payments for employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 30 September 2021.

Employers will receive £3,000 for new apprentices of any age who join their organisation from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

The incentive payment is in addition to the £1,000 employers already receive for hiring an apprentice:

  • Aged 16 to 18 years old
  • Under 25 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the case of their local authority

Apprentices who joined your organisation before 1 April 2021

For new apprentices who joined your organisations between 1 August 2020 and 21 March 2021:

  • Aged 16 to 24 years old, employers will receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500

You must apply for these apprentices before 31 May 2021.

Apprentices who joined your organisation from 1 April 2021

Employers will receive £3,000 for new apprentices of any age who join their organisation from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

You can apply for incentive payments for these apprentices from 1 June 2021 to 30 November 2021.

You can apply for the incentive payment after you add new apprentices to your apprenticeship service account.

You must set up an apprenticeship service account to apply.

The payment is different to apprenticeship levy funds, so you can spend it on anything to support your organisations costs. For example, on uniforms, your apprentice’s travel or their salary. You do not have to pay it back.

Learn more about incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice.


Strengthened collaboration to deliver young talent for logistics companies

Two award winning organisations, Think Logistics and NOVUS are coming together with Career Ready, the national social mobility charity, to give logistics companies a unique early talent opportunity.

The collaboration creates a single and simplified route for companies looking to solve the skills shortage the sector faces. By providing engagement opportunities in schools, colleges and universities, the partnership provides an integrated approach for developing pipelines for direct entry, apprenticeship and graduate roles.

Employees are encouraged to volunteer to support the collaboration, which prepares young people from a wide range of backgrounds for the world of work. Opportunities include mentoring, delivering masterclasses, hosting workplace visits, and providing paid work experience.

The partnership builds on a successful seven-year relationship between Think Logistics and Career Ready, in which young people aged 16-18 have been supported by sector volunteers and inspired to pursue careers in logistics.

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, CEO at Career Ready said:

 “Our partnership with Think Logistics has been very important to us as we recognise how vital the logistics sector is and that it provides a growing range of career opportunities for young people.

Adding NOVUS into the mix means it’s a unique offer to both logistics companies and young people.”

NOVUS and Think Logistics have worked side by side for four years, winning awards for their collaborative efforts.

 Andy Kaye, CEO at Bis Henderson and founder of NOVUS said:

“We welcome this unique development as it provides a unified voice from the sector, to the sector, to highlight the pivotal role volunteering and engagement plays in securing early talent for logistics companies. We want young people to think of logistics as a career of first choice.”

Key aims of the partnership include enhancing the perception that logistics has amongst young people, teachers, and parents, and using alumni networks to inspire other young people to choose a career in logistics.

Steve Granite, CEO of the Abbey Logistics Group and founder of Think Logistics commented:

“A key part of our messaging over the last seven years has been to challenge the “trucks and sheds” stereotype and demonstrate that logistics is an essential sector that can provide young people with great career opportunities. The pandemic has shown how important the logistics sector is to communities across the UK and beyond, which represents a fantastic opportunity to change the narrative with young people, teachers and parents.”


Freight association urges members to consider recruiting apprentices

As National Apprenticeship week comes to an end, the British International Freight Association has repeated its call for freight forwarding and logistics companies to consider recruiting apprentices.

An executive director of BIFA, Carl Hobbis said: “We know it’s a tough call, with the pandemic and the post transition period continuing to disrupt many freight forwarders’ operations.

“There has been a sharp decline in the number of individuals that have started their journey on the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship.

“Forwarding businesses have many difficult commercial decisions to make, but shelving apprenticeships should not be one of them.

“It is vital to continue to recruit freight forwarding apprentices and build capacity to start equipping a new generation with the knowledge and skills to face the challenges ahead in the post EU-Exit and post Covid-19 world.”

BIFA says that the fall in apprenticeships is not just a freight industry problem. Government statistics show a sharp decline in apprenticeship starts across the entire country. However, for the freight industry the issue is even more acute because of a huge upsurge in its workload both before and after the end of the EU-Exit transition period.

Hobbis,  who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, adds: “We are at an important crossroads and we must protect the future of the sector as we meet the changing supply chain management demands that have resulted from the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.”

He says that the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship, which BIFA helped to create in 2018, is an ideal entry point for the industry with around 500 apprentices having taken the pathway already, with great success.

He adds that available finance should not be an issue. Significant funding is available as part of the government’s support scheme for training and apprenticeships. Until March 2021, to support employers to take on more apprentices, the government is offering up to £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire.

In a message to individuals considering an apprenticeship in the sector, BIFA points to the fact that the freight and logistics industry will always be needed in an increasingly globalised world where there will always be a need to manage international supply chains, which are in a constant state of flux.

It adds that EU-Exit is bringing new and different challenges and opportunities, such as the potential for new staff that need training to lead the way in customs procedures.

Hobbis concludes: “With over 1,400 members of BIFA all around the UK, there is likely to be a potential employer close to anyone that wishes to start an International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship.

“Now, more than ever, we need to promote the industry and give young people employment opportunities. We have had an apprenticeship standard for international freight forwarding for three years and the sector has been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a career in forwarding.”


How to use education partnerships to attract young talent in logistics

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As a sector tackling a skills shortage and with tough times ahead for the economy, raising positive awareness of logistics industry careers with the next generation of talent is vitally important. But where should you start? And what are the benefits?

We spoke to Ian Nichol from Career Ready, Andy Page from Business on the Move, and Bethany Fovargue from NOVUS Trust for their advice and tips.

1. First, be clear what you want to achieve

Be very clear from the outset about what you want to achieve from your partnership with education, whether that is a school, university, or college. You can only know if you’re successful if you are clear about what you want to achieve in the first place. Also be clear about what business commitment you have, in terms of staff time and any resources you might be able to offer before you even engage. Get any approval needed before you start the conversation.

2. Do your research

Research the education provider, just like you would a business client to check they’re the right partner for you. There are school websites, prospectuses, and curricula available, so look at them all first. All schools are also now legally required to publish their careers policy, so that will provide insight into how it approaches engagement with employers. Also, check out who’s on the governing body and has specific responsibility for employer engagement, because that might be a useful discussion point or entry point. 

People in your own business may have already got contacts in the school or college, so check within your own staff team if anyone is already in contact with them, as they might be a useful source of information.

Plus, think about and understand some of the parameters that all schools have to work within. If you’re working with a school, do you know what exactly Ofsted is? And what the league tables are? Or if you want to work with a business school, expect that they want to 6 to 12 months ahead, especially in the current environment. 

3. Engage with the right person

To initially engage, try to make personal contact and avoid email. Start at the top if you can, as you’ve got to get CD leadership and senior management team behind what you want to do. Identify key personnel, such as someone in charge of work-related learning, or a key department for a particular subject or specialism. 

Be prepared with reference material to back up what you are talking about, such as a website or testimonials, and be clear on the nature of the relationship you are looking for. Is it a long-term relationship? Or a one-off engagement? Be honest and upfront.

4. Get the first meeting right!

It sounds obvious, but make sure you go into the right building, to the right site, especially schools that can have split site buildings! And make sure your car parking is arranged so you don’t lose planned meeting time.  

In terms of the sort of key issues and questions that you’re likely to discuss, don’t assume that you’re the first employer offering to do this sort of thing. Find out what the school’s been doing in this area before as there is unlikely to be a blank canvas to start from.

Go in listening mode to find out exactly what the school might be looking for. If they’ve got no ideas, then you can suggest some but try to start from where they are at. If you’re going in with a specific programme or offer, then make sure that it is clear and that you’ve got evidence that it works. Make it clear what you’re going to get out of it – that’s nothing to be embarrassed about as the relationship should be on the basis of mutual benefit, for education and business. 

Have a plan but be flexible. You may hit upon something in that meeting that you hadn’t anticipated but is a great opportunity so you can go away and consider how your business can meet that curriculum need.

5. Understand the barriers

The language and the cultures are different between business and education so businesspeople need to appreciate this in any engagement with schools. Response times from schools may be longer than businesses normally expect as teachers have limited time available to reply to emails.  Likewise, universities will need time to talk to their teaching staff before any decisions are made. Also, in the current climate, employers will need to be patient. There is catching up to do so many programmes may not resume for some time and may not be able to be face to face.

For university engagement, one of the biggest challenges is that the academic calendar runs very closely to the logistics calendar. So, it may be the Christmas peak when an institution is requesting a guest lecturer. In that case, businesses do not have to send a very senior figure – it really doesn’t matter who speaks as long as they are passionate about the company and the sector. Many businesses send apprentices into schools to speak with great results.

6. Get help from the experts

For businesses needing reassurance, there’s now an infrastructure in place via an organisation called the Careers and Enterprise Company, with more than 30 careers hubs in place in a range of local enterprise partnership areas. The hubs include schools, colleges, universities, and employers and each local enterprise partnership has an enterprise advisor, who’s there to advise employers and support them in engaging with schools. The local Chamber of Commerce may also have relationships in place.

There is a whole range of charities that engage with schools. Many charities have programmes that employers can tap into. Whether it’s delivering a talk for an hour, or something more involved, like mentoring, skills masterclasses, workplace visits, work placements or paid internships. These charities provide the infrastructure to ensure that businesses can engage successfully with schools and give employers the support for a successful outcome.

To make engagement with universities easier, there is usually an employability office in place to help employers get in front of young people and secure that talent. This can include jobs boards and graduate placement but generally offers a much more extensive service than this, enabling employers to choose how and when to engage with students.

7. Talk about what really matters

Educational partnerships are a great opportunity to promote your company brand, but also a great opportunity to promote the logistics profession and that is very important.  Aim to show students a range of different opportunities depending on what they want to do after they leave school or college. 

Avoid acronyms and jargon – these won’t mean anything to the young people you’re talking to. Keep it short and case study based is good for engagement. Share numbers where possible. What are your volumes? What are your turnovers? What inventory are you carrying? Young people are often awed by these statistics.

Always, give time for questions. Sometimes you’ll get good ones, sometimes you won’t. But it really helps to build that perception that we’re a profession that cares about young people’s development and that wants them to feel that we’re open, honest and they can interact with us. Allowing time for questions does that.

8. Demonstrate diversity

As well as enabling your organisation’s young people to be ambassadors for your business, it’s really important to show diversity where possible and try to steer away from the stereotypes of a white, male dominated industry.

Videos are a great thing to share in activity with education institutions, but ensure they are fit for purpose for the audience. Try to show the realities of different roles within the industry, alongside its diverse workforce.

9. Showcase your involvement

If you have the opportunity to shout about what you’re doing, then do! From a PR perspective, these programmes help to showcase the global, fast-paced, well paid profession that logistics is, as well as what your organisation is achieving. This could be within community newsletters or newspapers, trade press, associations, or your own channels, such as your websites and social media.

When you go to a school, parents are always very interested and as a result, local press are often interested in the good news story about what you are doing too.

Doing this will take time and effort, but if you put processes in place to do regular updates, yearly or quarterly for instance, it will help promote what you are doing to young talent.

10. Experience the benefits

Engaging with schools offers clear benefits in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility and giving back to the local community.  Staff from the business can also get involved, providing rewarding and enjoyable volunteering opportunities and great personal and professional development that boosts morale.

Partnering with educational institutions can also help to develop new talent pipelines for jobs and apprenticeships within your business and build your reputation as an employer of choice. It is a chance to inspire the next generation of talent – the group you’re talking to, and those who hear about it through ‘playground chat’, as well as to enrich the curriculum so that young people entering the world of work better understand it, and the skills they need to succeed. 

It also benefits the educators. For instance, employer engagements can help schools to achieve the Gatsby benchmarks which define the best careers provision and advice and guidance that schools can give to the students. Two of these benchmarks relate to the world of work, specifically encounters with employers and employees, and the experiences of workplaces. So, organisations can really bring those two benchmarks to life by engaging with schools and colleges.

More resources

To learn more about how to get started with education partnerships and the benefits this can bring to your business, listen to our Talent in Logistics podcast here:

Engaging with educational providers to help with youth employment

You can also download free resources educational resources and activities via our Learning Through Logistics zone. These have been collated by Talent in Logistics in collaboration with Business on the MoveCareer Ready Think Logistics, and NOVUS Trust. All of these resources are completely free and ideal for both parents and teachers to use to educate children and young people about the world of logistics, and why it’s so important.

Low Paid Workers Hit Hardest by COVID Economic Crisis

Covid Economic Crisis

The rise in unemployment brought about by the COVID-19 crisis is predominantly affecting those in low income jobs, according to research published by the IES this week.

The study, which ‘sets out early findings on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on low paid employees’, examines Labour Force Survey responses between February and April—at the peak of virus spread, but early in the economic wake of lockdown.

While figures showed no statistically significant change in the likelihood of high paid workers being in work, the employment rate for those in low paid positions dropped by 4% across the period, ‘equivalent to a fall in low paid dependent employment of approximately 140 thousand.’

The figures suggest that the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support have not been sufficient to protect the livelihoods of ‘a sizable group’ of low-income workers. Yet, those who have managed to keep their jobs may also find themselves in a precarious position. Both high- and low-income workers reported a reduction in working hours, but again, ‘those in lower paid work were almost twice as likely to have worked fewer hours due to being laid off or put on short time working.

The hospitality and retail industries, in which the highest concentration of low paid workers are employed, have been among the hardest hit by the crisis. But the study also points to the economic vulnerability of low paid workers, identifying ‘their often more precarious employment conditions’ as a factor in their present hardship.

These conditions include being substantially more likely to be in temporary employment, working part time, or on zero hours contracts. Low paid workers are also more likely to be underemployed, i.e. working fewer hours than desired, and are more than twice as likely to be the heads of single parent families.

The study comes less than a month after data from HMRC showed that the number of Jobcentre claimants had risen by 126% between the start of lockdown and June, with an IES press release at the time stating ‘unemployment has risen more in the last two months than it did in the first year of the Great Depression.’

One of the measures being proposed to help alleviate the crisis is the £2bn temporary job creation scheme revealed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his summer statement. The scheme targets young people aged 18-24, one of the demographics most likely to be out of work. This was one of a raft of measures laid out in the speech, including a temporary cut in the VAT rate for the hospitality industry.

With the logistics industry posting record low unemployment in recent years according to the FTA, the impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen. But logistics companies already looking to apprenticeship schemes to address the driver shortage will, for a limited time, be able to claim £2,000 for each apprentice they take on (£1,500 for apprentices aged over 25). The increase in people looking for work in a competitive market may be an opportunity for logistics companies to exploit, to the benefit of all involved.