Pall-Ex appoints new Director of International Development

Pall-Ex has appointed Karolina Thompson as its new Director of International Development to drive the global expansion of the brand.

Karolina, who has been part of the Pall-Ex International team for over 12 years, has been promoted to the role and the Pall-Ex Board, as the business continues to add Master Licensees across the globe.

Working closely with Pall-Ex Group’s Managing Director – International Business Units, Mark Steel, she will oversee the development of relationships and opportunities in territories all over the world, including Australia and the United States.

The International unit of Pall-Ex has seen a major restructure in the last two years, with a new approach being taken in Master Licensee recruitment.

Having started in her new role on 1st August 2021, Karolina expressed her optimism and excitement when looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me, I am grateful to Mark and the other members of the Senior Management team for having faith in my abilities.

“I have been working with our International colleagues across Europe for over 12 years now and my experience and knowledge means that I am well prepared to take on this challenge.

“The next few years will be really exciting as there are numerous projects on the way which will ensure Pall-Ex is the leading name in palletised freight around the world, which I can’t wait to be part of.”

Karolina’s appointment is another example of Pall-Ex promoting from within and investing in the talent it has within the business.

Mark Steel leads the International arm of Pall-Ex and since his time as Managing Director – International Business Units, he has appreciated the value of Karolina’s experience and dedication.

Speaking about her promotion, he comments: “When the need for this position arose, Karolina was the perfect candidate. After working with Karolina for over a year, I have been extremely impressed with her knowledge and professionalism.

 “She has an unparalleled level of understanding with the current Master Licence holders and knows what it takes to recruit quality companies to represent the Pall-Ex brand in various territories.

“I have no doubt that her commitment and skill will ensure Pall-Ex’s International ambitions are met and exceeded in the coming years.”

The team is now working flat out to broker deals with potential Master Licence Holders throughout Europe and beyond, working with quality businesses to bring the Pall-Ex model and brand to their respective territories.

Anyone wishing to discuss such opportunities to achieve excellence together, should visit

New appointments keep Pall-Ex Group on the road to growth

Pall-Ex Group has expanded its network team with a raft of new appointments to support on-going growth.

The logistics giant has doubled its team to 12 following the acquisition of the Fortec Distribution Network in 2020 and the introduction of its shareholder model.

Laura Brown, Nick Antill-Holmes, Alice Holdsworth and Kieran Lloyd Jones have been appointed Network Compliance Managers, while Rebecca Wayte has joined as Head of Network – North and Craig Chapman as Head of Network – South East, Emma Beales as Head of Network – Midlands and Ashely Diamond as Head of Network – South West.

Member Development Director, Mark Barlow, has recently been appointed to increase shareholder membership, focusing on key regions for the Fortec Distribution Network, including Scotland.

Together the team will ensure that existing shareholders meet strict quality and customer service standards, support individual business growth plans and aid member recruitment.

Pall-Ex Group now dominates the pallet network industry with more than 160 haulier shareholder members operating across Pall-Ex and the Fortec Distribution Network.

Sue Buchanan, Director of Network, comments: “A sharp increase in service demand within the B2C sector has underlined the need for membership growth and improved efficiency within our networks, particularly in rural locations.

“We are pleased to welcome Laura, Nick, Alice, Kieran, Rebecca, Craig, Emma, Ashley and Mark to the team and look forward to strengthening the Pall-Ex Group network with their support.

“With more than 70 years’ combined industry experience, their experience and knowledge of the sector will be vital to strengthening our networks on behalf of our members and our customers.”

Rebecca Wayte, who has worked in logistics for 18 years, comments: “My main responsibilities are to continue improvement of service, quality and revenue growth for our members in the North and I will work closely with them to achieve our collective goals.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to grow freight volumes and shareholder membership for the Fortec Distribution Network over the next 12 months.”

Craig Chapman, who brings 17 years’ logistics experience to the role, comments: “Pall-Ex Group is at an exciting point in its evolution; the fact we are now a member shareholder network means we can channel our energy and focus on being the best in the industry.

“By ensuring the South East region is stable and future proofed, we can realise our strategic goals for the Group.”

National Register of LGV Instructors Appoints Tom Ray as NRI Manager

As part of its commitment to improve the standards of LGV driver training across the UK, the National Register of LGV Instructors (NRI) has announced the appointment of Tom Ray as its new NRI Manager.  

Based in the NRI’s Telford office, Tom brings experience gained in roles in transport operations, health and safety, and driver training. With a passion for developing the future of training, Tom joins NRI at an important time as LGV InstructorsLGV Assessors and Driver CPC Instructors, as well as their employers, face the challenges of getting back to delivering high quality driver training to support economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.

On his appointment, Tom said “NRI is a rapidly evolving product in a growing market, and I am delighted to join such a forward-thinking organisation. NRI has an industry-backed reputation and my goal is to build on that by delivering on NRI’s overall mission to embed an ethos of professional development in the LGV training industry, as well as giving practical support and development opportunities to each of our 700 current members.” 

From his background with companies such as One Stop Stores, Wincanton, and Hopwells, Tom will focus his efforts on spreading awareness of the importance of professional development for Instructors, Assessors, and Driver CPC Instructors. Longer term, with the challenges for the road haulage industry as the transition from diesel to alternative fuels comes into play, Instructors and Assessors will need to acquire new knowledge and skills and be able to confidently pass these on to both new and experienced drivers. 

“There is a lot of incredible instructional talent within the industry, and it’s important that we, together with employers, training providers, and associated bodies, spread this message, giving opportunities to those wanting to gain the prestige, focus, and recognition that they deserve,” Tom adds. 

NRI also welcomes Leanne Hill as its new Examinations Administrator. Leanne has been appointed to review, verify, and process exam centre applications, exam results, and certification requests, process registration applications and renewals, and continue to build evolving relationships with the industry. 

NRI is endorsed by DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), and supported by Logistics UKRHA (Road Haulage Association) and JAUPT (Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training). Its objectives include maintaining up to date standards for the examination of the  skills and knowledge required of LGV Instructors, LGV Assessors, and Driver CPC Instructors, improving the standard of instruction available and increasing the overall number of registered instructors. It also aims to help improve the national pass rate of LGV vocational tests.

NRI is independently audited each year to reassure members of quality, standards, and neutrality.

To find out more about joining the NRI register, call Tom Ray on 01952 520210 or email


New Development Director Joins Pall-Ex Group

Pall-Ex Group is continuing its mission to recruit quality SMEs and expand its pallet network shareholder membership with the appointment of a new Network Development Director.

Mark Barlow brings over 20 years of logistics experience to the position, including extensive knowledge of the sector, having previously held roles in other UK pallet networks.

Based at Pall-Ex’s head office, Mark will be tasked with strengthening network membership across the Group, with a focus on building the Fortec Distribution Network membership in several strategic locations across the UK.

The appointment follows the launch of Fortec’s shareholder model in late 2020, which has already seen over 50% of its independent depots become shareholder members.

Mark comments: “As Network Development Director, I will be driving forward member recruitment through specific projects to reinforce and build on Pall-Ex Group’s already solid foundations.

“Building volume within the Fortec operation is one of my key aims. By creating greater drop density and opportunity for the members, along with capitalising on the synergies available within the Group, we can reinforce Fortec’s position as a major player in the pallet sector.

“With market-leading technology, a robust International solution and the unique, fair and progressive shareholder model, the Pall-Ex and Fortec member offering is an attractive choice for a forward-thinking, eager to succeed, logistics business.”

Sue Buchanan, Group Network Director, comments: “Mark’s appointment is a key part of our growth strategy and his experience within the pallet sector will be invaluable as we continue to develop both UK networks.

“Mark is highly knowledgeable and his energy and enthusiasm for the industry is already proving to be of great benefit to networks.

“We have some exciting developments happening in 2021, along with a revitalised network team that are looking forward to building on the foundations we have and supporting both UK networks with support, service excellence and exceptional technology.

“This is an exciting time to be part of Pall-Ex Group and we look forward to growing the network with Mark’s support.”

Mark adds: “I enjoy the fast paced nature of the logistics sector along with the challenges that are multi-faceted and complex; one solution doesn’t fit all scenarios and flexibility is the key.

“In this role the strength is about the whole membership moving as a collective, emulating Pall-Ex Groups ethos of working together, winning together!”

For more information about our shareholder opportunities or to speak to Mark directly please email:

Young Forwarder Network reaches half century

Just two years after it was launched in March 2019, the British International Freight Association’s Young Forwarder Network (YFN) has passed the milestone of 50 events, which is made all the more impressive considering the massive disruption caused to the sector from COVID-19 and the UK’s exit from the EU.

In its first year, 741 individuals had attended 28 events organised by the YFN, which included regional launch events, airport and port tours, as well as talks by industry professionals.

In March 2020, COVID-19 led to the first national lockdown, which caused a temporary hiatus in planning, but events recommenced online in May 2020 with a virtual bake-off.

In the past 12 months, 1,222 participants have attended 23 online events with the 50th event, a virtual port tour of DP World London Gateway, taking place yesterday, attracting a record 108 participants.

The YFN was launched in March 2019 to create several regional networking groups, run by young forwarders and designed to help early talent and young BIFA members develop their knowledge and professional skills, but in a more social environment.

Carl Hobbis, BIFA Executive Director, who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, says: “When the YFN was launched, we said we thought it would prove to be a major step forward for the industry in developing its future freight forwarding ambassadors and leaders.

“The young people who are participating in the events are improving their knowledge of the sector, trends within it, as well as building their skill sets and learning from others.”

BIFA’s Young Forwarder Network (YFN) is committed to providing opportunities for those new to the industry to develop their knowledge and professional skills. Membership is free and open to any employee of a BIFA Member company.

Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA adds: “50 events in two years is a remarkable achievement and a clear sign of the attraction of the YFN to the younger generation within the freight sector.

“The YFN is really helping improve the promotion of the sector, making it more attractive to younger people and providing forums from which to learn.

“We now need more BIFA members to take heed of this opportunity by encouraging attendance at YFN events; and making greater efforts to promote the freight forwarding and logistics sector in their locality.”

Hobbis concludes: “As we aim for a century of events, hopefully, we will be able to hold some in a face-to-face, more social environment, just like in the first 12 months of the YFN.”

Fortec strengthens in Scotland by addition of Bullet Express

Glasgow’s Bullet Express has invested in the Fortec Distribution Network to become its latest shareholder member.

The logistics firm has taken advantage of the shareholder member opportunities available with Fortec, as it looks to continue its growth just months after opening a new storage facility which increased its overall capacity by 25%, meaning Bullet Express can now have capacity to handle 26,000 pallets in all.

Bullet Express’s arrival in Fortec represents the business’ standing as one of Scotland’s premier logistics operators having built its reputation connecting supply chains throughout the last 30 years, and also provides increased strength to the Fortec network.

Fortec, began offering shareholder memberships to its members when it was acquired by Pall-Ex Group in August 2020.

The model, which has seen a strong uptake since then, provides greater stability and opportunities to independent SMEs across the UK, who share a common interest in making the palletised freight distribution network succeed as it continues to grow.

Bullet Express have prior experience of the shareholder model, having become shareholder members of the Pall-Ex network when the opportunity arose in late 2019.

Now shareholders in both networks, the business is well positioned to become the go-to business for palletised freight distribution services in Scotland.

John McKail, Managing Director at Bullet Express explains how the decision to become a shareholder member of Fortec was made by the executive board at the Glasgow firm and describes the benefits it will bring.

He comments: “The last year has been about solidifying our position and setting our sights on growing the business, with significant investment being made to ensure that happens in the months and years to come.

“Joining Fortec as shareholder members means we now have an increased service offering for our customers, providing added value and increasing our competitive advantage.

“As a shareholder member, we are committed to helping the network succeed and we have a real belief that Fortec will continue to go from strength to strength as more quality members take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”

The shareholder offering has seen a strong uptake since its launch in late 2020 and members are benefitting from being a part of Pall-Ex Group.

Barry Byers, Managing Director – UK Business Units for Pall-Ex Group has said that he is excited to see Bullet Express joining the Fortec network.

He comments: “Bullet Express consistently deliver high service performance and their arrival to Fortec adds to the quality of members we have within the network.

“Fortec has always been a close-knit network with a strong team ethic and the shareholder membership opportunities are just another element which strengthens the network further.

“We are really proud to have Bullet Express join Fortec and we are excited to see our network grow with the quality of great members like Bullet Express.”

For more information about Bullet Express, please visit:

Shareholder opportunities are still available within Fortec, and more information can be found here:

RTITB’s nationwide Driver CPC service to support firms with multiple transport depots

RTITB can now arrange for all of an organisation’s Driver CPC Periodic Training to be delivered across the UK within one service. The nationwide service will help businesses with multiple depots and transport hubs save hours and managing training time, without compromising quality.

“We understand that training plans have been de-railed in many businesses due to COVID-19,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director for RTITB. “Add to that leaner workforces with few hours to spare, and overstretched training departments – if there is a training team at all – and coordinating Driver CPC Periodic Training can become a real challenge.”

“Our fully managed Driver CPC service is designed to support businesses during these challenging times, in a way that also enables them to be reassured of consistent, and compliant, training standards for every driver across their organisation,” Laura continues. “It suits supermarkets, retailers, 3PLs, 4PLs, and manufacturing or logistics businesses with multiple sites.

The service sees RTITB arrange for all of an organisation’s Driver CPC Periodic Training to be delivered by trusted members of the RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium. A dedicated Driver CPC Manager works with the organisation to develop and manage all training requirements nationwide, taking into account the number of drivers that need training, and the locations where this should take place.   

Suitable members of the RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium are invited to express their interest in providing their services, before the Driver CPC Manager executes a selection process to match the business’ needs with the right provider. As the largest Consortium network in the UK with 150+ members, there are typically training providers located within easy reach.

All Consortium members have access to up-to-date, modular course content that is industry relevant and in line with current regulations and trends, and available via the recently launched RTITB Driver CPC Periodic Training Portal.  Instructors can use this to quickly build customised course playlists that incorporate a variety of delivery methods and instructor styles, from traditional presentations through to case studies, workshops, group quizzes, videos, and activities.

“The RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium is built around the basic principle of providing a high quality, universal training package with high standards of instructor delivery,” says Laura.  “This means that even though different training companies may be used, businesses can be confident that every driver will be trained to the same standards.”

For ease of administration, businesses will only need to deal with RTITB, removing the need for managing multiple bookings and invoices from varied suppliers. The Driver CPC Manager compiles a 12-month calendar of training dates and subjects and uses a bespoke Resource Management System, which incorporates Instructor qualifications, availability, location, and experience. Fixed and variable costs are presented up front, to help organisations manage their budget easily.

To speak to a Driver CPC Manager about your requirements, contact Jane Hughes, Customer Success Manager on +44 (0)1952 520207 or visit to learn more.


How to ace your networking in a remote-working world


In recent months, it’s been challenging to meet with current contacts, let alone to connect with new ones or network within your industry. But, even though most events have gone online and there are travel restrictions and social distancing to contend with, you can still network!

Want to know how? Read on for some top tips from Talent in Logistics and Samantha Leleu, General Manager at Pertemps Driving Division, sponsor of the virtual networking session at the upcoming Talent in Logistics Awards on 1st October. 

1. Be prepared

Make the most of any networking opportunity by being prepared. Think about your ‘elevator pitch’ in advance. The right pitch will make you and the company you are representing stand out to your listener and be interesting, memorable and succinct. It’ll also mean you don’t feel put on the spot when asked the inevitable, ‘So what do you do?’

Also, do your research on who will be attending any meeting or event in question. 

“Ask the event organisers for their list of attendees. Sometimes these will be provided, other times they won’t. But if you don’t ask, you won’t get,” says Samantha Leleu.

When doing your research, don’t just focus on which companies will be attending, think on more of a personal note. For example, do you have anything in common with the key people you’d like to meet, such as someone you’ve both worked with in the past? 

It’s always best to show that you know your stuff and don’t feel as if you’re out of the loop, so read the company’s recent news, blogs and social media updates.

Even if you go to an in-person event or meeting, sharing business cards may not be a popular move at the moment, so why not connect on LinkedIn instead? A virtual business card that you can include if you’re emailing new contacts is helpful too.

2. Take advantage of industry webinars

Throughout recent months, industry webinars have come into their own. Although time is at a premium, setting aside time for a webinar is largely achievable and enables you to keep up to date with your sector, and also to connect with like-minded individuals who are facing the same industry challenges as you.  

“There are many born networkers in this world, but for some, live events and human conversations can be challenging,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “For some, webinars are an easier way to interact with key industry figures without instantly plunging yourself into the networking deep-end!”. 

Ask questions to show other attendees that you’re present, and what issues matter to you, which helps to position yourself as a key figure within the sector. You could also consider sponsoring a webinar or hosting one of your own with a topic that appeals to those you’re trying to connect with.

3. Think of it as a date!

Dress to impress! You can’t make a first impression twice and if you dress too formal or too casual for the occasion, you’ll end up feeling uncomfortable. This is just as true if you’re on a webcam as if you’re at an event in person. 

You might feel nervous if you haven’t previously attending many events but don’t forget to smile…not only will it make you look more approachable but people will see that you’re having a good time and be more likely to make conversation.

“Remember to be engaged,” says Ruth. “Even online you can keep eye contact and demonstrate active listening.”

“Be sure that you don’t dominate the conversation! A conversation is a two-way transaction so be sure to ask lots of questions to find out more about this person and their role,” says Samantha. “Not only will this result in a better conversation, it will be far more memorable for both parties involved.”

4. Get under the same roof as the experts

What better opportunity to network than when your peers and leading industry figures are together? Even though nowadays they will be more likely under the same ‘virtual roof’ rather than in a conference centre! 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses quickly adapted their business operations to include digital events as opposed to physical ones where social distancing proved to be challenging, if not impossible. 

“Many events, including our Talent in Logistics Annual Conference, have gone online, but you still get the same chance to see what like-minded people are experiencing, overcoming or succeeding at,” says Ruth. “Hearing how industry experts approach business is always a hugely beneficial experience.”

5. Follow up proactively

The networking event itself is important, but what you do within the following 24 hours is also key. 

“Whilst things are fresh in your mind, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the business cards you picked up throughout the day. Make personal notes on them of conversations had or memorable quotes or events discussed to mention when you follow up”, says Samantha. “This will seem much more personal and can go a long way in the future. When doing follow-ups, never forget to thank the event organisers. It’s funny how far a thank you can go when it comes to future events.”

Apply the same practice with your virtual contacts – keep notes and reminders, and send a personalised follow up on email or social media.

6. Enjoy yourself!

During challenging times, enjoyment can seem a lower priority. However, it’s as important as ever to reflect on industry successes and celebrate. That’s why at our upcoming online Talent in Logistics Awards event, Pertemps Driving Division is our partner for a virtual networking session.

Register for free to attend the Talent in Logistics Awards to benefit from a unique online networking opportunity, as well as a whole evening of interaction, positivity, recognition and celebration that honours those in our industry who have worked so hard of late to keep the country running.

The Talent in Logistics Awards are dedicated to recognising and rewarding the people that keep the logistics sector and country, moving every day throughout the whole supply chain, with categories highlighting not only stand-out individuals but the teams and organisations that have gone above and beyond to make real differences.

After the turbulence and challenges of recent months, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate our fantastic logistics sector together! For more information on attending the awards or sponsoring an awards category, visit,  call 01952 520216 or email

Making distance learning a reality in logistics

In part one of this blog, we shared a discussion with Simon Tindall, Head of New Business BDU, and Liz Hanway, Sector Lead for Transport and Logistics BDU, from the Open University about how learning and development has changed, in particular in relation to e-learning and distance learning, and what that could mean for logistics.

Here we share the next instalment, looking at topics how distance learning can support the future skills agenda, and what resources are available now to employers and employees in the logistics sector, including those on furlough or facing redundancy. Read on for more or listen to the original interview in our latest Talent in Logistics podcast.

Boris Johnson recently delivered a speech at Dudley College, and he said about the skills agenda, about levelling up Britain, and the investment in infrastructure. He talked specifically about apprenticeships. Distance learning is going to form a big part of that skills agenda going forward. What do you think needs to be done to make this a reality? 

[Simon Tindall]: – Well, I think some of it is already a reality today. When the recession started, we began doing quite a lot of work with UK governments across the four nations to build awareness of what skills opportunities there already were. So, we were involved in a digital skills toolkit that the government launched a couple of months ago, which links to Open University courses.

One of the key things that people don’t always understand about the Open University is that we have a very strong social remit and subsequently, that manifests itself in a huge provision of free education. Through our Open Learn Portal, we have something like around 10,000 hours of free online content, which covers everything from basic Maths and English to softer skills. 

The other key piece is what’s the next progression, and I think that comes back to tying skills availability and skills attainment to job opportunity. People want to undertake skills to get them to their next career goal, be that to get a job, to get a better job, to get promoted, etc. There is still work to be done to link skills provision towards job availability so that people can directly see that by undertaking a number of courses they get to the next stage of their career.

[Liz Hanway]: A lot of industries that I’m speaking to at the moment are having to make that awful decision of bringing people back from furlough and potentially having to make them redundant and they care about these people, but their hands are tied. How can they best support those people? Where can they signpost them to? Part of my role is helping them to do that. There are resources out there. 

In terms of making distance learning a reality, there needs to be some key steering groups to actually make this signposting possible. We need employers to really push it as well.

If I think about the logistics sector specifically, I think it is definitely one that needs some guidance and some tools for people, including young people. Do you agree?

[LH]: Definitely. The world is changing quite dramatically. And even in the world of logistics, we’re crying out for HGV drivers, but in 10 years’ time, are we going to have automated vehicles? Are we going to have drones dropping parcels for us? All of these are new challenges where you need forward thinking managers, but you also need to recognise that you need a workforce that isn’t necessarily progressing up a ladder but has very transferable skills, understands what those transferable skills are, and can move around the business. 

What I am seeing is people sadly losing their jobs in the logistics area, and they may have been in that environment for their whole working lives.  So, I’m working very closely with, for example, a baggage handling company, and actually the employees probably have all the skills to help Royal Mail and get all our post delivered. So, it’s about working with employers to make those skills analysis, mapping them out and helping them put them back into employment where there is work. 

You mentioned the OU has got courses that people can utilize for free and that can help them with those transferable skills, soft skills etc. Can you tell people where they can access some of that information, and if there’s any specific resources that might help if they worked in the logistics sector?

The first place to go to is the Open Learn site, which has got all our free course material or Google “skills for work” or “skills for life”. Skills for work has anything from leadership or management to effective timekeeping. On skills for life, there’s a new one we’ve just done with Money Saving Expert. There might be people who are now faced with a situation where there may be on furlough only getting 80% of their salary and they need to know how to better budget for things. There are also some courses on bereavement as people have potentially been losing people during this. Then, the second thing to look at is “Open Learn DWP”.

And then I would say specifically to employers, as I’m hearing quite a lot that learning and development budgets are being cut, that it’s about working with what you might have. So obviously there is still the apprenticeship levy and many larger employers are saying they haven’t spent it yet. So just to remind people that small companies can still take advantage of this 90% of funding for potentially putting employees on a degree program or a lower level apprenticeship program.

From the OU, we can support on the leadership and management side of the apprenticeship, so you could even currently get an MBA qualification through an apprenticeship. The other big thing that a lot of logistics companies are looking at is the move to digital transformation. So, we do the digital apprenticeship as well. If it is lower levels that people are looking at, we will try and do a bit of a mapping with the employer and we’ve got several partners that we might be able to signpost employers on to.

There is a whole host in the free open learn site I mentioned earlier. So just to name a few courses that I think would be interesting. 

  • Succeed in learning – looks at people and identifies the common skills that they’ve got and what skills they can transfer into their next job, or career role
  • Effective communication in the workplace – managers now, that are probably used to seeing their colleagues and/or team face to face, have now got rely on communication by phone, or by e-mail. So different ways of working.
  • Transport and sustainability – where leaders are maybe thinking about changes you might have to do in your operations, and how actually can we do this long-term. There is a similar one on supply chain sustainability too. 
  • Managing virtual projects  If you think about what’s going on in, in transport, one of the many changes is how you actually manage projects. So, you might have projects that have started, and now you have large teams all over the place, you’ve got now manage these projects virtually. 
  • How teams work – that looks at all the different behaviours, how do you motivate your team when you’re not seeing them? You’re not having necessarily having one to ones, you’re all in different places, you’re online and what things you need to be aware of.

If organisations do have some learning and development budget, I would encourage them to think about not necessarily signing people for full degrees, but maybe bite size courses – the Open University has short courses. 

Or you can just take a module from that degree program. You can come to the university and study many different modules over a period of time (say, 15 years) and come out with what we call an open degree – it’s basically a bespoke degree to yourself. 

We’ve got some really good courses at a postgraduate level if you’ve got senior leaders. 

For more information on the Open University, visit 

Talent in Logistics Podcast

For more insightful podcasts to help those in the logistics sector look after the wellbeing of their employees, as well as their business, be sure to check out all out latest podcasts – with two new ones added each month.

Tips to kickstart your perfect Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plan

Ongoing development and awareness of a clear career pathway are both key factors for many employees when it comes to their engagement with an employer. With challenging times potentially ahead for the logistics sector, it’s more important than ever for employers to retain their valuable talent. That’s why it’s a great time to ensure that you and your employees have the right development plans in place.

Not sure where to start with creating Personal Development Plans (PDPs)?

First, stop, and reflect

It would be easy to download a PDP template from the internet and start filling it in, but it’s important to do some self-reflection or self-assessment first. Skipping this step will make the PDP less effective, as well as a more difficult process to complete.

Start by considering some key questions:

  • What do you like or dislike doing? – There will always be some tasks that you prefer to do over others, but if you are thinking of a career change or moving to a different job role, then this is an important area to focus on so that you can ensure you’re fulfilled and happy in your new role.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? – There is always a case to try and work on improving your weaknesses, but this doesn’t have to be the focus. Maybe it is more important to maximise your strengths instead and become even more highly skilled or expert.
  • What do you want to achieve? And how you will measure your success? – It’s important to consider how you want things to be different going forward and how you will know when you’ve progressed. Also, to consider how this will improve your performance and what effect it will have on the business.
  • How do you want others to view you? – Thinking about your own “brand” is part of your personal development. You should consider the relationships you have with your stakeholders – so employees, customers, sector peers, line management, project management teams, senior leaders – and how these could improve.

The Johari Window

Another method for self-assessment is a very well-known and popular model (in the world of HR) called the Johari Window.

This technique encourages you to consider what is/isn’t known to yourself and what is/isn’t known to others and has a four-box window – one of which is the Arena. This is what people can easily see and what you like to share about yourself.

The aim for your personal development journey is to get as many things as possible into the Arena, with less in the other boxes – the Blindspot, Façade and Unknown.  To do this you may need to share more skills openly, embark on some self-discovery, or ask for feedback, to discover what others see in you, that you may not be aware of. Which leads us to the need for 360-degree feedback.

How to gather 360-degree feedback

The purpose of this is to gather the thoughts and perceptions about you from your stakeholders to help guide your development journey.

For instance, if you’re looking to move into a certain management position, there may be key skills needed to do that. Through the 360-feedback process, you could ask people how they think you perform in those areas, whether that’s delegation, time management, communication, or anything else. Or maybe you want to see how people think you are performing against certain business objectives, such as customer service, communicating change, working as part of a team etc.

Before embarking on collecting feedback, it’s good practice to check with management that they are comfortable with this. Explain why you want to do it and why now, what business problem this may help to solve, what makes this important to you and what outcomes you want to achieve.

You could do this with face to face conversations, via email or preferably via an anonymous online survey (there are many free tools for this out there) or paper questionnaire. However, a good feedback survey will:

  • Not be too time consuming and long as to put people off – be selective with questions and set a deadline for responses
  • Have well structured questions so they are answered in the manner you intend
  • Be tailored to different people depending on their role (if relevant)
  • Encourage people to be honest
  • Be anonymous where possible, and should not have an impact on your relationships with any stakeholders
  • Link to your particular objectives, projects, or key soft skills

In general, 360-degree feedback can be a great thing to implement business wide to create a culture of honest feedback and to put ownership in the hands of the individual. However, rules should be communicated to ensure this process is treated with maturity and guidance on how to provide constructive feedback can be helpful.

SWOT analysis

After you have asked questions of yourself and gathered feedback from others, you can start to do some further assessment.

A good place to start is with a SWOT analysis. This works just as well for an individual as it does for businesses. To recap:

  • S is for Strengths
  • W is Weaknesses
  • O is for Opportunities
  • T is for Threats

You should have by now identified your strengths and weaknesses it should be simple to write a list of these under the relevant heading. However, the more challenging, yet most useful part of completing a personal SWOT analysis, is the opportunities and threats.

Opportunities will help you identify where you could go, what trends you could take advantage of, what you could capitalise on. In threats you should consider what could happen if you don’t maximise your strengths, improve the weaknesses and grab hold of the opportunities. What’s coming up that could get in the way? Keeping threats in mind can help to motivate you and push you to continually develop.

The Personal Development Circle

You may find that a SWOT analysis doesn’t work for you. In that case, you may prefer to map things out with a Personal Development Circle.

Choose four key areas of development – these should be bespoke to you. For instance, your character, profile, knowledge, and skills. You could also look at this with the 4 P’s in mind – People, Processes, Platform (Software and Systems) and Performance (against KPI’s/Objectives).

Once you have decided on your development areas and created your circle, start to write down some development actions to take against these.

Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plan templates

Once you have completed the self-reflection, received and evaluated feedback, and considered all the outcomes, your assessment is complete. Next comes the really important part – creating your personal development plan! This is what will help you get that job or promotion. But remember, you can’t create an effective plan without the assessment phase first.

To enable you to take this next step, we have created a free resource download which contains example templates for Personal Development Plans. You can choose the one that works best for you and complete it to form the basis of your plan.

Download Personal Development Plan templates now.

Your development should never stop!

Remember, developing your Personal Development Plan is not a one off. You need to have support, follow up and reflection.

  • Reflect upon your learning experience, so remembering why you did it and what you have learnt
  • Think about how you have put theory into practice and put your learning to work
  • Improve the knowledge of your teams/peers by sharing your learning with them if you can

And don’t forget to measure the overall impact your learning has had on the work you do. So, at some point, go back to the self-assessment phase and do the whole process all over again so that your plan is up to date.

Watch Personal Development Plan webinar

To learn more on this topic and how to fill in our Personal Development Plan templates, watch a recording of our recent webinar.

And good luck!

How has learning and development changed during Covid-19?

During recent months, once ordinary day to day processes and activities have changed massively for many across the logistics sector. With travel restrictions, lockdown, and social distancing to adhere to, there has no doubt been an effect on how those within our sector are delivering training and employee development strategies.

For our podcast series, the Talent in Logistics team recently caught up with Simon Tindall, Head of New Business BDU, and Liz Hanway, Sector Lead for Transport and Logistics BDU, from the Open University to find out how learning and development has changed, in particular in relation to e-learning and distance learning.  

In part one of a two-part blog, we see what they had to say about distance learning trends, why it’s a good thing, what the challenges are, and how to take the first steps towards implementing online learning in your training and development.

Read on to learn more or listen to the full podcast now.

When we look at trends since Covid-19 hit and we went into lockdown has there been an increase in people enquiring and enrolling on courses at the Open University?

[Simon Tindall]: I think what we’ve seen is not necessarily a huge change as such, but a significant acceleration of demand. So, prior to Covid, we always knew that people are increasingly looking at smaller and more modular courses. They were looking to do more education on the fly if you like and continue to upskill throughout their career, and this move towards generalists, rather than specialists that employers are looking for. 

Within the first eight weeks of the lockdown, we saw something like a trebling of activity on Open Learn which is a free educational portal. We saw over a million enrolments on courses within the eight week period and, although that has plateaued a little bit as Lockdown has progressed, we’ve certainly seen this huge adaptation towards people looking at online learning and distance learning options as being very feasible. So, we expect, as we come out of recovery, for that trend, to pretty much continue. 

[Liz Hanway]: Interestingly, our PR agency has also helped do some polling to see what activity has been going on. Almost half of the people on that pulse said they felt very uncertain about their current job role, and 24% of them have taken on additional learning opportunities. That is in part to increase their employability skills, but also a sense of feeling the need to protect the value of their skills in their current workplace, so that if redundancies are being made they are showing that they’ve got the highest skills possible to keep their current job. 

The biggest rise that we have seen – 39% – is among 18 to 24-year olds. One in four of those admitted that they would like to have more direction from their employers when it comes to learning new skills. With younger team members at 38%, most keen to have a steer from their leaders on how to remain employable post coronavirus. 

So, what we’ve seen at the Open University is a change in that the age population of who we’re educating has also come down. Prior to this, we were probably more post-25, and now we are seeing more 18 to 24-year olds as well.

At the moment, there’s a logical reason as to why people might look at Open University or distance learning, because we’re in a time where it’s not as easy to get into a classroom to train. But why do you think students choose distance learning over more traditional classroom-based learning?

[LH]: – I think the world has been changing – we’ve been moving more to a digital world and Covid has just accelerated that. I think people are thinking more and more about the lifestyle they want and the costs – I know for myself, I’m actually saving quite a bit of money not commuting into the office. I’m actually having more time with my children to play Monopoly. And thinking more about what my personal drivers are in life, not just my work-life balance.

I think this is what people are now reflecting on during the Covid pandemic – what do I want to do? My future career? How can I progress maybe in that company? And protect my job? But, equally, is this a wakeup call to doing something differently? 

So why people might choose distance learning? Number one is, ultimately, we are a great university, but we are, because of our major delivery, cheaper than traditional universities. It doesn’t cost £27,000 to do a degree with us. We can give you the flexibility and lifestyle that’s around it. So, we don’t, dictate that you come on campus and have to do lectures at a certain time. 

The sort of person that comes and studies at the university is really self-driven, they are doing it because they want to do it. I know that sounds daft but when I went to university, it was the thing I had to do because my parents said, “pick a course, off, you go”. We find people at the Open University have very much decided it’s a personal journey that they are on. These are people that are very confident, self-motivated, and able to balance that online learning.

The Open University was set up to educate adult learners that probably weren’t as confident in learning, and we still have that in place, so people will come to the university who haven’t studied before and can go at a pace that suits them. The Open University were top within the UK, potentially Europe, for disabled students, with 17% within that category, so a lot of students are attracted to our accessibility.  All our courses are designed with dyslexia or colour blindness in mind

We have extra validation so course can be delivered online. Most universities will primarily face to face teach, and then whack on a PowerPoint at the end. When we say distance learning education, what we’ve actually done is research around the methodologies that actually work.

[ST]: Ultimately it just comes down to flexibility, so the way the courses are structured, and the delivery mechanism allows people to build their educational balance or education around other commitments, be that work or family commitments.

I think one of the key areas is particularly if you have ties to staying in the home environment, for example if you’re a carer or, in the current situation, when you’re isolating or shielding in some way. That flexibility and the ability to access from home becomes really important. It’s like working from home – prior to the crisis, people did it, but it was generally still seen as people should be in the office. I think some of those myths have been largely broken over the last 3 or 4 months.

What are the challenges in distance learning?

[ST]: I think the biggest challenge is that you are largely doing it on your own. The flexibility is great, but you also need a self-discipline to actually complete the work assignments, and to self-motivate, as well. There is also the obvious challenge that a lot of online learning is very much done in isolation.

The way that we try and structure our formal education, is doing far more as a social activity. So, in the same way as with a bricks and mortar university, you would be split into various tutor groups and you would have a physical tutor that supporting you. We replicate that structure online, so it’s not as if you’re just doing this course totally in isolation. 

[LH]: –You have got to be self-disciplined. There are going to be days where you think “I don’t want to do this”, and you’ve got no one else around you in a classroom environment to say “come on. The other thing you’ve got to do is be really good at managing your time.  75% of our students who are studying at the University are doing it around other personal commitments and in employment, so they have to really plan when it is time to study.

We do a lot of work with training providers within the logistics sector, and they predominantly deliver hands-on training (driver training for example), but what are the first steps they can take to deliver parts of their courses via online methods?

[LH]: – First, identify what it is that they want the learner to come away with. Even with very technical courses, there may still be some softer skills surrounding it. Not every course is going to be viable to teach online especially in transport and logistics. You’re not going to learn to drive a forklift truck by going on an online course. What you might learn is how to manage your time more efficiently, or how to lead a team, and all that’s behind it. 

What I would say to suppliers is really look at the courses you’re doing already and start to break them up into bite sized chunks. Establish what the elements are that really need to be taught face to face. What are the elements that you could migrate to an online blended learning platform? And just to clarify what we mean by online – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be looking at a computer screen. It could still be that you’re interacting with people, but just not in a face-to-face environment. 

[ST]: – Having people in a face-to-face environment in a classroom is expensive. And for employers, it’s an expensive opportunity cost, because learners could be working instead of training. So, it’s about how do you optimise that classroom time more effectively? What elements can actually be studied prior to the training beginning and started online? Thinking about driving a forklift truck and how it operates – you could study the underlying theories online, before coming to the classroom, so you’re far better prepared. Optimising the classroom time more effectively is one of the first steps. 

In terms of how the OU can help, obviously we produce all of our own content across our whole curriculum at degree level, and also our whole online learning for education elements as well. We also produce for other parties as well, so we have a commercial division where we’re using Open University methodologies, pedagogies, and expertise to actually bring that impact of training to other parties. And if people are interested, we are more than happy to do that, either as an own brand product or to look at joint ventures in those types of areas.

I’ve seen some interesting articles that talk about the fact that employers sometimes favour those who have come through traditional education compared to someone that’s got their degree through distance learning because they don’t see it as the credible option. What would you say to that? 

[ST]: – One of the key things that what we find is to the contrary – quite often Open University degrees are actually more highly valued, because, as we talked about, you need a lot of self-discipline. Typically, most of the people to undertake an open degree, or open university degree, are working and balancing, and they tend to be a little bit older. And, so, I think employers recognise it shows a lot more about the character of that potential employee than if they have just gone through a standard route of studying at 18-19. 

There was a survey on LinkedIn of around a quarter of a million LinkedIn profiles in the UK completed about six to nine months ago and it said that the highest university, where people got qualifications for managing directors and CEOs, wasn’t Oxford or Cambridge, but it was actually the Open University 

[LH]: –I think the world’s starting to recognise that the types of people that are doing these courses are bringing with them valuable new learning skills, but also work skills with them as well. When you finish your degree, and come to do a job, you’re probably in a much better position because you have all the attributes that an employer is looking for. 

People are very shocked to hear that actually OU is in the top 100 global business schools, and that we are in the top 19 in England alone, with triple accreditation for the business school and its MBA. 

Do you think for yourselves as OU and for distance learning as a whole there’s going to be a change for the long term? And might we see more schools, colleges, and traditional universities taking a more distance-based learning approach?

[ST]: I think remote learning is always changing and continues to do so. The current situation accelerated a lot of things that we’re already beginning to change. I think one of the big, exciting areas is that we’ve already got debates going on in the UK around open schools, and how do you put more online provision in within schools and colleges. I think also for the universities, the whole sector is being challenged dramatically over the next two to three years, by their lack of preparation, or lack of online provision. 

Perhaps the most interesting things that you see within the world of work is this acceleration of linking academic education more closely to job and skill needs moving forward. I think what you are going to see is tighter integration between skills and universities and certainly the Open University doing a lot more in the area of skills training. 

Equally, this trend towards continual learning, that is going to carry on, and change from being bigger chunks of qualifications, to being picking up skills to get your next career move or your next promotion.

[LH]: I think with the move to online, what I’m also seeing is people that might not necessarily have got their GCSE Maths or English and didn’t want to go to night school or college, or had the fear of walking into an examination hall, are now realizing that they can do these qualifications online. I’m definitely seeing a lot more employers contacting me to see if they can help employees get their GCSE Maths and English qualifications.

Talent in Logistics Podcast

The second part of this blog will take a look at what Liz and Simon think about how distance learning can support the future skills agenda, and what resources are available now to employers and employees in the logistics sector, including those on furlough or facing redundancy.

Or, listen to the full podcast now to hear more.

You could also listen to our other recent podcasts, which include guidance for employers on employees returning to work post-pandemic with Woodfines Solicitors, and a thought provoking discussion around equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace with Clipper Logistics.

Sponsor: Find and compare the best online courses to fit your learning needs!

How can we overcome barriers to learning in logistics and transport? Part 3

This is the final part of our blog series looking at how logistics organisations can overcome common barriers to training and development.

In the first instalment, we covered justifying time and budget for training and overcoming negative attitudes to training and we’ve also covered getting managers on board with training. These shared ideas and advice from the audience of instructors, in-house trainers and training providers that attended an interactive session at our Talent in Logistics Develop Conference in January.

Now, let’s look at their advice relating to two more example scenarios. Do they sound familiar?

How can you make training accessible?

The scenario:

A survey was conducted with your blue-collar workforce recently and they were asked about training. Their responses varied but the overwhelming themes were that studying is too hard and so they wouldn’t be able to do it, and that learning is just not fun. How can you work to change these views?

Delegates’ ideas and recommendations:

Why does the workforce think they are they can’t do it? Is it because they are older and don’t understand the technology being used in training? Or are they young and feel inexperienced compared to colleagues? In these scenarios it may be more of a confidence building exercise than anything else.

It’s possible that they don’t enjoy training because they have a different learning style that isn’t being catered for. Maybe they could benefit from using something like a VR simulator instead of PowerPoint classroom training?

What’s the best way to tackle poor performance on training courses?

The scenario:

Your organisation has a policy where all operatives who reach a supervisory level of responsibility are to attend a mandatory Lift Truck Instructor course for their CPD. The course pass rates for these particular candidates are below average and the people that run the course confirm that the candidates lack engagement from the moment they arrive. Other people from within the organisation are calling out for development but don’t appear to have the same opportunities.

Delegates’ ideas and recommendations:

First, the company should question why this policy is in place and if it is the right thing. Clearly, it’s not right for the business as the people that matter don’t love it. Is there more relevant training that could be offered? Find out by asking them!

If you have operators that are keen and capable of being instructors, it might be better to train them instead of the supervisors – there seems to be a big difference in attitude. There could be brilliant operators being overlooked and this is a waste of talent. It’s about making sure that the right progression programmes are in place.

If supervisors are being sent on an instructor course simply as a tick box for CPD it is more likely they will be disengaged with the training. Once at supervisory level, will a member of staff have time to also be an Instructor? It could seem overwhelming to their workload and that is why they don’t want to pass the course.

Managing and developing talent

There isn’t a one size fits all solution when it comes to developing people in logistics and transport – every organisation is different. However, no matter what your challenges are, Talent in Logistics can help.

Download free resources on our website, read the Talent in Logistics Journal for the latest news and thought leadership, or attend one of our events.

Talent in Logistics Event Calendar

Our next event is the Talent in Logistics Engage Conference on 21st April 2020. Here, delegates will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to feel more confident, more prepared and ready to keep their workforce better engaged than ever before. Book your place now.

Over the summer, the Forklift Operator of the Year and LGV Driver of the Year live competitions take place, celebrating our industry’s best talent.

Then on 10th September, our Talent in Logistics Attract Conference will focus on how the best reach the range of potential employees needed to bridge the skills gap in transport and logistics.

Our year of events culminates in a celebration of excellence in our sector at the Talent in Logistics Awards in October. Full details to be announced soon, including how you can enter the awards to reward and recognise your talented employees and your best people development initiatives.