Freight association welcomes extension of government support for apprentice recruitment

FREIGHT ASSOCIATION WELCOMES EXTENSION OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR APPRENTICE RECRUITMENT

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade association that represents UK freight forwarding and logistics companies, says that it welcomes the news that the government is extending the period of time that companies can access cash incentives for hiring new apprentices.

The cash incentives were first introduced in August 2020 and offered businesses £2,000 to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24, while those that employ new apprentices aged 25 and over were to be paid £1,500. They were increased to £3,000 for all apprentices in February, but that scheme ended in September, but the government has prolonged the scheme by four months until the end of January.

Carl Hobbis, BIFA executive director, who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, says: “The extension in funding support is a further reason for our members to consider the apprenticeship pathway as a means of adding fresh talent to the industry.”

Having been actively involved in the creation of an International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, BIFA has committed to promote its availability since it was introduced in 2018.

BIFA director general, Robert Keen says: “Whilst our members, quite rightly, remain focused on significant business continuity issues, we welcome the extension of the funding.

“As one of the largest providers of freight forwarding and Customs-related training courses, we are ready to help any of our members that are seeking to take advantage of the additional funding being made available to recruit apprentices.

“There is also a dedicated area of the BIFA website – https://apprentices.bifa.org/ – that can help both employers and potential recruits to better understand apprenticeship opportunities in the freight forwarding industry.”

Talent in Logistics Postpones Its 2021 Awards Event

Talent in Logistics announces the decision to cancel the 5th edition of the annual Talent in Logistics Awards until 2022.

The Talent in Logistics Awards programme recognises the talented people that work within the sector, keeping the cogs turning. That includes individuals, such as forklift operators and HGV drivers, and the teams of people behind the scenes who are responsible for training, health and safety, and more. It also focusses on initiatives that display best practice when it comes to sector recruitment, employee engagement, and people development.

Ruth Edwards, Operations Director at Talent in Logistics comments: “Cancelling this year’s awards was a very difficult decision to make, and we are very disappointed as we were so eager to welcome the industry for another brilliant event. However, we are certain this is the most responsible course of action at this time.

“For us, the magic of our industry is in the people. Over the past year, they have been crucial, and deserve even greater praise and recognition than ever for their efforts. So, to keep everyone safe, and give us the best opportunity to celebrate these efforts we feel it is responsible to postpone. We make a promise to the sector that when we come back in 2022, the event will be bigger and better than ever before.”

Talent in Logistics will release full details for the 2022 event in due course.

For further information on entering the awards or sponsoring an award category in 2022, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk, call 01952 520216 or email info@talentinlogistics.co.uk.

Future Work: 5 Trends That Might Change the Business Universe (Part 2)

Talent in Logistics delves into the future of our industry by imagining how present trends might reconfigure the workplace by 2030. Part 2 continues where we left off last week. Recap on part 1.

3. Employment Relationships

External drivers like Brexit, the economic environment, consumer demands and more recently COVID-19 have fundamentally shifted the idea of the ‘typical employment relationship’. The traditional career model could change in the future: it may be more likely people won’t have a

‘career for life’ like in the past, but that an individual’s working life will feature a range of cross-sector and cross-functional experiences, requiring the attendant skills.

This increased flexibility offers benefits for workers, and the potential to negotiate harder where their skills are in demand. But there are also potential costs; the gig economy and zero-hours contracts, both recent innovations, have come under stern criticism not only due to their poor security but also the perceived erosion of employee benefits and the mercurial nature of the gig market. Meanwhile, young people entering work may find it hard to gain the experience and skills needed to progress and access good quality jobs.

There may be some benefits to the logistics industry, nonetheless. With more workers than ever pushing for work from home, an evolution in motivation and engagement and health and wellbeing strategies may be coming. That can only be good news in an industry whose backbone—the drivers—have long been working remotely.

4. Demographics, Diversity and Inclusion

Life expectancy and retirement age continue to trend up, meaning we now have and will continue to have more generations in our workforce than ever before. Simultaneously, the younger generations joining the workforce are challenging the status quo, with a greater understanding of and insistence on workers’ rights and the flexibility and willingness to move elsewhere if their needs aren’t being met. How will we ensure that the invaluable skills held by our ageing workforce are passed onto younger workers? Will phased retirements and job-sharing become more standard and accepted?

The Millennial cohort and their Gen Z counterparts are rising to become both the dominant consumer bloc both externally and as ‘internal consumers’: employee stakeholders. Clare advises that these ‘consumers’ are increasingly political, with support for social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter significant, along with endemic environmental pessimism. Young people are less loyal to brands, more critical of corporate ethics, and are liable to think with their feet.

This is likely to force businesses to behave less as commercial entities and more as communities of shared interest. Traditional workplace policies and processes designed for treating people fairly by treating everybody the same might need to give way to more nuanced approaches. This would include recognising that absolute equality of treatment tends to accentuate existing inequalities rather than addressing them. Will D&I move away from outdated policies designed to safeguard ‘equality’ and toward the principle of supporting individual needs?

5. Responsible Business

The pressure for better people policies comes from outside, too. What evolved D&I practices are to employee morale, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are to consumer goodwill. Additionally, there is a rise in demand for sustainable, ethical and responsible business practices coming from regulators and investors, as well as dire warnings from the science community regarding sustainability.

The common theme in many of the threads examined in this article is the need to reimagine work as a force for good. Shallow commitment to shareholder value is unlikely to make good financial sense in the coming years, even leaving the social ramifications alone. Commercial pressures must be balanced with the need for ethical practices, since the two are becoming increasingly synonymous.

The dangers of failing to heed the call to change may be stark: with the environmental doomsday clock ticking, the rise of cancel culture and the growing number of citizens and intellectual leaders questioning whether contemporary capitalism is capable of dealing with proliferating crises, the threat might not merely be financial ruin but seismic changes to our way of life. The future of the world of work may be unclear, but one thing is certain: in ten years’ time, things will be different. They will have to be.

Based on findings from CIPD’s People Profession 2030 report.

 

Future Work: 5 Trends That Might Change the Business Universe (Part 1)

Talent in Logistics delves into the future of our industry by imagining how present trends might reconfigure the workplace by 2030.

The hammer of the future descends. To paraphrase the spuriously attributed ‘ancient Chinese curse’, we are living in interesting times. Covid-19 in particular has presented a challenge to business unprecedented in the last half century, but the pandemic is only one of multiple impactors beating the business world out of its current shape: Brexit, the home delivery boom, increasing focus on social inequalities, the tectonic creaking of global economies as they shift against each other. The degree of success logistics firms will enjoy in 10 years’ time depends on whether the force of change shatters them open along old fault lines or is harnessed to shape them into something stronger and tougher.

In order to help readers get a head start in the notoriously tricky business of augury, TIL will be looking carefully into present day trends. These trends were established in a November 2020 paper by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), so all credit goes to CIPD for identifying and developing these. The paper in question is available in the link at the top of the page. TIL also got in touch with customer experience expert Clare Muscutt, founder and director of CMX Ltd., for some additional insight into the nature of the challenges ahead.

1. Internal Change

In the short term, Covid-19 has necessitated bold changes in the way organisations operate and make decisions. But the long-term consequences of this culture shock are yet to become clear. What can be said is that traditional ways of working are being challenged—not least the role of the ‘workplace’. With the viability of work-from-home proven, potential cost savings and the flexibility work-from-home solutions offers employees may redefine our concept of the workplace from a physical space to a social and technological network.

The need to manage operations at a distance is increasing the relevance both of technological communications platforms such as Zoom and workflow management solutions such as Monday.com. The proliferation of these and growing concern about information overload may force organisations to rethink both how they communicate and what, perhaps leading to more stringent policing of internal communication (fewer emails? Yes, please.)

Businesses on high alert, in aiming to react dynamically, may even dissolve traditional organisational leader/team structures in favour of mobilising possies to confront specific projects before disbanding and reassigning them once their objectives are complete.

Here, Clare issued us this word of warning: excessive, ill-considered or mismanaged change could atomise unwary businesses. Getting transformation right is a delicate process requiring clear objectives, unwavering customer focus, and the right methodology and tools.

2. Technological and Digital Transformation

Tech has a habit of bowling googlies to the business world. Impossible to augur innovations force large scale changes on an increasingly regular basis (the internet, mobile tech, data). The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2019) suggests more than one in ten jobs will cease to exist within the coming 15–20 years and a further 32% will be significantly different due to automation possibilities. This in turn could mean significant restructuring of the workforce, with reskilling and the development of new roles—not to mention the obvious social and ethical ramifications of removing so many jobs from the market. And this is the predicted impact of just one sphere of technological advancement: automation.

Much as with internally motivated change, the drive to adopt sexy new tech can also be dangerous. For Clare, any change is dangerous where top-down decisions are made without input from frontline staff, as their on-the-ground expertise can be used to identify potentially devastating pitfalls before they become costly mistakes.

Anecdotally, the author of this article saw the evidence for this first-hand, working in education: the school that replaced all its whiteboards with glitzy, unreliable computer tech without asking the teachers; the school that installed an advanced multimedia classroom suite for foreign languages without realising the department lacked the skills necessary even to send an email with an attachment.

In light of risks such as these, the appetite in the logistics industry may be to ‘defend traditional ways of working’, making businesses slower to transition. But if the growth of home delivery shows anything it is that logistics will likely be profoundly affected by changes—whether it chooses to engage with them or not.

Our analysis of the five trends that may change the business universe continues next week, when we look at what the future holds for employment relationships, diversity and inclusion and responsible business.

Based on findings from CIPD’s People Profession 2030 report.

 

Locking in Learning through Logistics

Logistics is all about delivering ‘the right thing at the right time to the right place at the right price’.

Business On The Move seek organisations that care passionately about their local communities to do just that, to deliver collectively 3,000 copies of Business on the Move over the next few months to families who would greatly appreciate some free assistance with home-schooling.

The families might live in your local communities around your own sites. They may be your own employees. Or perhaps you just want to make a different difference in these very difficult times?

The principal target audience for this campaign is:-

• Families without access to a computer and the internet. 

• Larger families with difficulties sharing access to online learning.

• And, at the other end of the spectrum, families concerned about excessive hours of online/screen-time learning, including time on the phone and watching television too.

Business on the Move offers a proven educational alternative in the form of an interactive and enjoyable board game ~ using the vital role logistics and global trade play in all our lives as its backdrop ~ that parents and children of 9-19 years old can relate to.

The game’s versatility mean it can be played by the whole family ~ from age 9 upwards ~ and many times over with the extra dimensions and levels that can be gradually introduced.

Furthermore, developed with sector partners and downloadable from the game’s website, are 50+ additional different types of learning activity that are all matched to the curriculum and provide all kinds of problems to solve without the need for a computer!

Through their campaign, “Locking in Learning through Logistics,” they propose to seek the support of organisations involved in logistics or supply chains to collectively supply “the right thing at the right time to the right place at the right price’.

Why should organisations in the logistics and supply chains sector get behind this campaign?

Helping thousands of games to be placed with home-schooling families will:

• Enhance the reputation of your business as a caring organisation recognising the challenges of home-schooling.

• Help celebrate the key role and importance of logistics and supply chains as a whole, reinforcing the positive images and visibility of the industry since the pandemic began.

• Engage young people’s curiosity about the sector their parents work in and help to make your industry a career of choice rather than a career by chance.

If you are interested in contributing, what next?

Choose the number of games you wish to be placed   8, 20 or 48 games from the table below.

Decide if you wish to nominate (a) particular school(s) to receive and distribute the games to interested families OR if you prefer us to distribute your games through educational charity partners

Either, online through our SHOP web page, provide us with the choices you have made above and your contact details and make your sponsorship payment.

Or , if you prefer, email info@businessonthemove.org with your choices and contact details and we shall send you an invoice straightaway to trigger payment and the delivery of the games.

 

How Volunteering Can Benefit Logistics

Volunteering can bring a host of benefits to the volunteer,
to people in need, and to society as a whole. But, according to a recent paper
by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the value of volunteering
goes further when supported by employers. With skills development, improved
wellbeing and motivation, and even productivity gains reported, this paper
makes the case that ‘the intelligent way to be selfish is to work for the
welfare of others.’

Focusing specifically on volunteering in education, the
paper draws on ‘a survey of 1,026 volunteers, detailed volunteer case studies
and the broader empirical literature’ to paint a picture of the way benefits
for all interested parties interconnect. The authors identify a number of areas
in which actively encouraging employees to participate can lead to business
gains, stressing that volunteering can be a ‘win-win’ scenario.

The paper cites several studies indicating a broad range of
skills and competencies developed by employees engaging in volunteering. These
range from confidence to workload management, mentoring skills and creativity,
with skills surrounding communication and the managing of relationships
particularly benefiting.

The paper goes so far as to suggest that the efficacy of
learning through volunteering is strengthened by the practical nature of the
task and the social utility it provides. ‘By practicing the skill in an
environment which the volunteer values, by seeing the impact on young people or
in the education system, volunteers feel the time is well spent and the skill
more fully internalised.’

This sense of social utility is also linked to employee
satisfaction. While there are more obvious areas of benefit such as a sense of
satisfaction at giving back to society, volunteering also led to some
surprisingly tangible benefits at work, including 68% of volunteers stating
that they felt some, strong, or very strong benefit to workplace motivation.

The extent of these benefits is strongly tied to the extent
to which employers support the volunteering activity. ‘45% report strong or
very strong benefits on work motivation if their employer proactively sources
volunteering opportunities, compared to only 23% if the employer is mostly disinterested.’

In establishing the benefits to young people, the paper may
offer additional inspiration to logistics sector employers concerned at the
growing driver recruitment crisis. Citing Mann et al., 2017, the paper points
out that ‘young people who can remember 4+ activities with employer volunteers
from their school days (e.g. work experience, enterprise events, mentoring) are
nearly twice as likely to find it easy to pursue their career ambitions and 42%
less likely to be NEET in their early 20s.’ The paper goes on to state that
‘authentic employer engagement is important for tackling stereotypes, inspiring
young people to imagine different futures.’

Reaching out through volunteering may offer opportunities to
engage with young people and challenge stereotypes surrounding logistics that
are imperative in the task of tackling the driver shortage. Additionally,
outreach may assist in tackling the gender diversity issue endemic to the
sector.

Source – https://www.educationandemployers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Value-of-Volunteering-final-8th-Jan-2021-1.pdf

Logistics UK Throws Down Gauntlet to Government in New Report

Logistics UK (formerly the FTA) has delivered biting criticism of current government policy in its 2020 Skills and Employment Report, while calling for significant changes. The report singles out the impact of the twin punches of Brexit and the Covid crisis on an already ailing labour market as a cause for anxiety. It goes on to lay bare failings in both apprenticeship schemes and immigration policy that stymie attempts to remedy the growing crisis.

The annual report is based on research and analysis commissioned by Logistics UK but produced independently, by Repgraph. Reports in previous years have highlighted concerns in the sector and discussed the efficacy of existing policies and schemes. However, the tone of the 2020 report is significantly tougher than previous years, presumably in response to the growing pressures on the sector.

Key statistics include an overall decline in the total number of HGV drivers in employment by 6.7% from 2019-2020, accompanied by a decrease in the number of van drivers in employment by 8.6%, and of forklift drivers by 20.7%.

As in previous years, it is the shortfall in skilled HGV drivers which is driving concern. Poor recruitment and an ageing HGV driver population are issues not only in the UK, but across Europe. However, Brexit and Covid have exacerbated these issues in 2020. The average age of HGV drivers climbs steadily through the year, typically taking a dip only in Q2 as younger drivers (presumably those leaving full time education) join the sector.

However, despite large numbers of young people in unemployment, the average age of HGV drivers jumped up more than 6 months in Q2 2020: a sign young people are not only not becoming drivers, they may even be leaving the profession. ‘In Q2 2020, the proportion of people under the age of 24 driving HGVs fell 57% to 2,724, compared to Q2 2019.’

Meanwhile, EU and other immigrant workers, who make a significant proportion (around 10%) of the logistics workforce, are leaving the country in high numbers. Citing another report by UK in a Changing Europe, Logistics UK alleges ‘given the UK’s comparative performance in both economic and health terms, rather than stay, EU workers have simply “gone home”.’

Given the vacuum, then, why have now unemployed UK workers not rushed to fill the vacancies? Addressing the paradox of high demand and low uptake, the report identifies several key weaknesses in policy creating obstacles to entry.

The cost of training is cited as the first obstacle, and identified as ‘clearly too high for most individuals to pay out of their own pocket.’ Apprenticeships schemes, touted as a potential solution to the shortfall, are also failing. ‘The number of transport apprenticeships started in the last five years is less than half the original 30,000 target set by Government in 2015.’

The low uptake for apprenticeship schemes is blamed on a structural issue with way training costs are allocated, given that firms shoulder the burden for training but drivers are then free to leave for companies that can afford to pay higher wages. ‘This creates a disincentive for business to spend additional funds on training.’

While recruitment of BAME drivers was seen as promising, the failure of the sector to attract women was identified as an ongoing diversity issue, and linked to the Government’s failure to deliver on promises of more secure HGV parking spaces with suitable facilities for women.

Criticism also fell on DVSA’s response to the Covid crisis: ‘Despite the development of COVID-19-secure processes and means to take tests, DVSA shut the system down and delivered only 631 practical tests in Q2.’ With a decrease in the number of HGV practical tests taken of 96.6%, this situation is only going to worsen, leading Logistics UK to call for ‘urgent action to make up this shortfall.’

Given the problems bringing UK nationals into the workforce, the obvious alternative would be to bring in immigrant workers to fill the gaps. But the report argues that post-Brexit immigration policy makes this nearly impossible, ‘because the MAC (Migration Advisory Committee) has not accepted the case for adding the role of HGV driver to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) because it is not eligible for the skilled worker visa route.’

In light of this plethora of reprovals, the report ends on a confrontational note. ‘The time for talk is over: Government must act now in partnership with industry to secure the future of logistics.’

 

PD PORTS RENEWS CALL FOR BUSINESSES TO BACK YOUNG PEOPLE DURING COVID19 AND BEYOND

PD Ports has continued to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to supporting the next generation with a dedicated webinar, led by CEO Frans Calje and host Les Richings, Chair of the CILT UK Ports, Maritime and Waterways Forum, to encourage businesses to do more in offering opportunities to young people.

 

In the event, which took place on Wednesday (9 Dec), Frans, alongside fellow panellists Mark Easby, High Tide Foundation Chairman, Ian Nichol, Head of Logistics at Career Ready and Emily Clark, PD Ports Civil Engineering Apprentice, discussed the work already underway in the Tees Valley in addition to the importance of meaningful career experiences for young people starting their career journeys.

 

After a year of unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, Frans shared his concerns that the pandemic could hinder the next generation and explained why now, more than ever, businesses need to aid young people in achieving their ambitions.

“There is no underestimating the stressful impact that the pandemic has had on all of us, and the economy,” said Frans. “One of the things that we are particularly concerned about is that a whole generation of young people will fall between the cracks of finishing education and starting employment. That’s why we’ve been calling, alongside our partners, for businesses to really double their efforts and bridge the gap between employers and the next generation of employees. When I was 16/17 I had no idea what I wanted to do and it is still the case that young people simply don’t know what opportunities are out there. We need to challenge that.”

 

A shining example of PD Ports’ ongoing commitment to supporting and developing talent, Civil Engineering Apprentice Emily Clark also expressed her concerns that young people don’t release the opportunities on their doorsteps.

 

“It’s so important that companies like PD Ports continue to promote opportunities that are real and achievable within our area,” said Emily. “People have the preconceived idea that you have to move away to find work, or to go to university, and that is not the case. The career prospects in our area are getting greater and greater and it is so important for both young people and businesses to really come together and help the Tees Valley reach its full potential.”

 

The port operator has worked closely with the High Tide Foundation since its inception in 2012 to deliver meaningful career experiences to young people aged 11-19.

 

During the discussion, the foundation’s Chairman, Mark Easby, explained how its work experience programmes have been heavily impacted due to COVID19 restrictions and how the charity has had to change and adapt in order to maintain engagement with young people when face-to-face programmes have not been permitted.

 

“The fundamentals of our business model had to change as the rug was essentially pulled from under our workplace based programmes and we had to make the decision whether to sit and wait until we could start up again or do we change how we do things,” said Mark. “We actually brought forward some of the digitised work that we had been planning and launched our online learning hub to ensure that we are still igniting the spark in the next generation, providing an understanding of business in the Tees Valley and showcasing the world of opportunities that are on offer. “We want to do more and we know that our business members want to do more. We need to blow open the perceptions around industry and open minds on what opportunities are right here in our region.”

 

PD Ports is one of the largest private employers in the region and supports 22,000 jobs in the wider supply chain. Building on an already impressive recruitment drive, in which the port operator aims to employ 50 new apprentices by 2021, Frans told how the work does not end here.

 

“We at PD Ports plan to continue engaging with our partners in business, communities, charity and Government to find new ways to help young people during these difficult times and beyond,” added Frans. “It is a duty we must fulfil for our communities, for our region and for the nation.”

 

Ian Nichol reinforced Frans’ sentiment saying, “We’ve got to do everything that we can to help young people find opportunity in our area. Here at Career Ready we use the phrase ‘Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not’ – we’ve got to ensure we create those opportunities for generations to come.”

 

The next steps for the port operator include planning a ‘virtual summit’ to give young people an opportunity to share their experiences and ideas directly with business followed by a national forum that brings together partners, including leaders from industry and the wider maritime sector, to develop a plan of action.

BUSINESS ON THE MOVE CLINCH INNOVATION IN RECRUITMENT AWARD

The Very Enterprising CIC devised Business on the Move (BotM), an educational board game, on account of a passion for educating young people about how business works and the important role of supply chains and logistics to all our lives. The success of BotM in inspiring young people to begin planning their career in logistics helped The Very Enterprising CIC clinch the Innovation in Recruitment award at the 2020 Talent in Logistics Awards.

BotM excites and inspires young people about the sector and business as a whole; raises the aspirations of our next generation and future workforce, and enhances young people’s employability skill, building behaviours, attitudes and skills that last a lifetime. Just as the game’s core simplicity and inherent versatility appeal to teachers across the educational spectrum from primary school to university, its realism resonates with logistics and supply chain professionals such that the game is becoming a growing feature of the sector’s training programmes here and abroad.

The team at The Very Enterprising CIC were, and still are, overjoyed to win, especially during this year of all years. While Coronavirus may have sabotaged in the last few months their planned involvement in conferences, workshops and networking events, the global pandemic has not been without its silver linings for The Very Enterprising CIC. Lockdown was the catalyst for a number of bold initiatives.

Business on the Move’s website has undergone a revamp, adding a training and higher education page and family page. Lockdown also prompted collaboration with sector partners NOVUS, Talent in Logistics and Think Logistics to set up in a matter of weeks ‘Learning Through Logistics’, a collection of diverse logistics-related resources to support parents home-schooling. ‘Learning Through Logistics’ has already grown beyond expectations and has already been shortlisted for a national award in its very first year!

Meanwhile, Business on the move is going digital, with The Very Enterprising CIC sharing mutual expertise with the University of Warwick and Ocean Network Express (ONE) to create a Virtual BotM. Development is under way, with expressions of interest already received to participate in testing a prototype virtual game in the New Year. Meanwhile a prototype ‘Humanitarian’ edition of BotM Edition is currently being tested in Jordan and Switzerland as well as in the UK in preparation for production and launch during 2021.

Learning as a benefit

During my career in education and skills development the focus has always been around working with organisations to identify skills gaps within their networks and to support them in providing their staff with the necessary training and education to get them where the business needs to be done.

However, what if the end goal of education wasn’t just to equip staff with training relating to their role? This may seem radical and rash, especially when I always hear how Learning & Development budgets are being cut, but here is why this might be worthwhile you reading on…

Any new learning can stimulate brain changes which in turn improves performance. The more we stimulate our brain the denser the myelin in our brains becomes, which helps the brain to take on even more!  Learning new skills also stimulate the neurons in our brains which assist in learning more things quicker over time.  This stimulation creates more neural pathways enabling electrical impulses to travel faster across them. The more pathways that are formed, the faster impulses can travel enabling the brain to take on more information quicker.

That’s the science, but it’s well-known that a bored, unstimulated person is far less productive than an engaged person. From a mental health standpoint, this helps keep the brain agile and able to take on new tasks.  I remember when I first became a mother, my mid-wife said, ‘a happy mother makes for a happy baby’. I feel this is the same in the workplace too: ‘A happy workforce makes for a happy and productive business.’

So, for a moment let’s reflect on this: ‘what is it that my workforce really need to enable them to be the most effective team?’ or from an employee’s perspective ‘what is it that makes my job feel unfulfilled and monotonous?’ Could new activities and education support this rather than just specific job training?

The Open University has been working with various organisations to support ‘learning as a benefit in a variety of different ways. These range from attracting people to areas that have struggled with staff retention either by rewarding staff for their service and loyalty to a company or by acknowledging that their organisation is a stepping stone for them moving into another career. I recently worked with one large organisation who actually saw social mobility and job retention as part of their CSR so they are funding staff to study law, engineering and nursing courses whilst continuing to work in their logistics organisation. The return on investment for them is greater staff retention and savings in recruitment and training but also knowing they have supported the UK economy with a skills shortage in key areas.

Most recently, the Open University has been working in partnership with Uber. The Uber team views education as a benefit, not only for the drivers who use the app, but also the wider community; for example, a driver’s family. Thanks to this initiative, over 750 drivers have enjoyed the opportunity to convert their international qualifications into ones recognised in the UK, train in a new career, or support a family member studying for a degree. As the majority of drivers are from lower income households or have English as their second language, this programme is a pioneering example of the OU’s mission to make education accessible to all via flexible learning at work.

I have also had conversations with retailers on how education could be passed on to VIP customers as a benefit as well. Imagine if you could, as a customer, earn enough reward points towards a qualification or you knew using one retailer would gain you a sponsored place on a programme if you were loyal to them for many years?

My argument is that organisations shouldn’t just see education as sitting within their HR department confined to a decreasing L&D budget. It shouldn’t just be focused on workforce skills development. It can mean so much more. It can mean a more agile workforce that is more mentally resilient, a happy and productive workforce that is more eager to take on new projects and opportunities, it can support staff loyalty – and potentially customer loyalty too, but fundamentally it would also truly mark that organisation out as an aspirational place to work at or as a customer, to buy from.

If you would like to watch the Uber case study video click here or contact me at Elizabeth.hanway@open.ac.uk

In times of change, it’s people that matter

While every industry has been affected by the global health emergency that we are all living through, the logistics industry has endured a particularly difficult time. Some sectors have faced unprecedented spike in demand, with online shopping and consumer stockpiling causing challenges for the retail and groceries sectors. On the other hand, firms transporting goods for the construction, hospitality and events industries saw varied demands making the daily management of its fleet operations and staff levels problematic.

Many transport and logistics workers became ‘key workers’ during the pandemic, allowing them to continue doing their jobs even as everything else shut down. For months, they have worked tirelessly to ensure the country has what it needs during one of the most challenging periods in recent memory.

Protecting your workforce

Those working in high-demand sectors, such as warehousing and distribution, have been under huge pressure to perform during lockdown. All the while knowing that the nature of their jobs means they may be more exposed to contracting the virus. They have maintained the supply chain admirably and deserve gratitude, like the many other key workers who have supported people throughout the first lockdown.  Compounding these difficulties is the known driver shortage and aging workforce (particularly among haulage drivers).

There are many varied roles in logistics, but those behind the wheel of their delivery vans or HGV will often be working alone and sometimes for long periods of time. Couple this with restrictions imposed by Covid-19, they may face longer periods alone compared to others who may be in a team environment. These periods of isolation could add to anxiety and potentially impact on mental health. Drivers should not be overlooked accordingly, and their mental health monitored as far as possible.

In difficult times, looking after your people has never been more important.

Placing increased emphasis on communication and supporting employees’ mental and physical wellbeing will do wonders for logistic workers’ morale, productivity and health. Retention in the workplace can be problematic so checking on your workers can increase a feeling of belonging and inclusion.  Businesses are working hard to navigate through the financial pressures caused through the pandemic restrictions and the constantly evolving situation, but compliance with health and safety measures and taking steps to maximise the wellbeing of their workforce is essential.

This can be achieved by:

·       Effectively communicating and enforcing new policies and procedures, such as social distancing within warehouses and contactless deliveries for haulage drivers. 

·       Supporting employees’ physical health by ensuring they take adequate breaks and providing them with suitable PPE and hand sanitizer.

·       Incentivising employees to take sick leave if they develop symptoms by providing them with information about government sick pay entitlement and the firm’s own sickness absence policy.

·        Placing emphasis on mental health and wellbeing and ensuring that staff are aware of the support available to them.

The Government, through the HSE, are issuing guidance in respect of various workplaces including in vehicles and business premises. Business mangers should keep up to date with that guidance accordingly.

This should not just be a tick box exercise, but to include measures that are of benefit to their staff and will promote a positive working environment and hopefully reduce staff turnover and build business repute.

A wealth of opportunities for new talent

While the pandemic has led to thousands of job losses, logistics looks set to become a major driver of employment going forward. In April 2020, the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that logistics was seeing the biggest demand for staff; Amazon alone stated its intention to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse staff at the height of lockdown. Now, as the country teeters on the brink of a second wave and Christmas rapidly approaches, a well-staffed logistics industry is set to be more important than ever. With the government currently pushing its ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ drive, there is greater potential than ever before to attract talent from other industries, with transferrable skills that could help drive positive change.

Speaking as I do regularly to educational establishments, I seek to encourage people into the sector by explaining the diverse range of opportunities available and the imposition of supply chain working. The industry is well regulated and requires a high degree of professionalism at all levels.

In these times it is the perfect time to reach out to younger generations to teach them just how rewarding a career in logistics can be. Just last year, a Talent in Logistics report revealed that only 8% of young people consider the sector to be an attractive career option, while 42% do not have a clue what logistics means. The pandemic has made the logistics industry more visible as we receive more goods and deliveries to our homes, and this has led to a new found appreciation of the vital role of the logistics sector. Now could be the perfect moment to appeal to younger generations, many of whom have seen their career prospects damaged by the pandemic and may now be more receptive to a wider variety of employment opportunities.

What’s more, the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which directly pays employers who create jobs for 16 to 25-year-olds on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, provides a massive incentive for logistics firms to start taking on younger staff. It also rewards employers who take on trainees and apprentices under the age of 25. With just 9% of the current logistics workforce under the age of 25, there is no better opportunity to rectify the historic lack of new talent entering the field.

A new era

The industry is currently standing on a precipice between the old world and the new. Ahead lies a wealth of opportunities for logistics firms to thrive in a post-COVID world. Much is still uncertain, but ensuring you look after the people you have and being proactive in attracting new talent is an excellent way to start planning for a prosperous future. In the words of Walt Disney himself: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

 

-Mike Hayward, Woodfines Solicitors 

Talent is Everywhere – Opportunity is Not

Just imagine you are a young person aged 17 from a low-income family.

You missed up to 6 months of schooling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and you had worked really hard in Year 11 for your GCSEs but you never had the opportunity to sit them.

Because of family circumstances you couldn’t always access the online learning opportunities provided by your school thus your confidence has been undermined as you have missed out on a lot of your studies compared to many of your peers.

You had planned to get some work experience during the summer but that opportunity was not available because of the pandemic.

You entered Year 12 in September and prior to this you were clear about your future – do A levels and either go to university or secure an apprenticeship.

Now you feel very worried and uncertain about your future…

Young people, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, have had their earnings and job prospects hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, adding to fears for the long-term impact on their futures.

A recent BBC Panorama programme found young people aged 16-25 were more than twice as likely as older workers to have lost their job, while six in 10 saw their earnings fall.

A quarter of pupils – some 2.5 million children – had no schooling or tutoring during lockdown, a survey by the London School of Economics has found.

The study’s authors warn it could lead to poorer pupils suffering ’’permanent educational scarring’’ when it comes to key academic milestones such as exams and securing a university place.

In addition there has been a significant reduction in the number of apprenticeships and graduate programmes available.

All of this is likely to have a detrimental impact on young people’s mental health as well as their social mobility.

So what can we do as a sector to support the post Covid-19 generation?

PD Ports, based in Middlesbrough, is leading the UK port sector to urge greater action to back young people – asking what more can businesses do and what price will we pay for not investing in the next generation?

PD Ports is leading a Tees Valley business campaign to support young people impacted on by the pandemic and it is launching its biggest recruitment drive ever in 2020 to employ 50 new apprentices.

One challenge that the company identifies is the need to overcome “hidden sectors” and the acute image crisis that faces the maritime and logistics sector in particular.

The sector’s image problem is long-standing and tends to define us as “just trucks and sheds.”

This was highlighted in the Talent in Logistics 2019 report: Changing Perceptions: Attracting Young Talent Into Logistics.

It surveyed nearly 500 young people and teachers and found that:

  • 42% of respondents didn’t understand the word logistics – 17% just associated it with transport
  • Only 8% considered the sector to be an attractive career option
  • Only 18% of respondents said they have been spoken to at school or 6th form about logistics as a career option

The RHA’s National Lorry Week 2020 campaign has been running for several weeks and will culminate with a series of school-related activities November 16-22.

The campaign has run a schools competition and has been showcasing the huge variety of careers on offer in logistics and encouraging young people and those who may be considering a new challenge to think about joining the next generation of drivers, managers and technicians.

I believe that the Covid-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for the sector as it has started to change the image of logistics and transport. These are now seen as essential services that continue to keep Britain moving during one of the most challenging periods in our history. Employees have quite rightly been designated as key workers.

Thus we need to work together and capitalise on this change of image and reframe the narrative with young people that they will be joining a sector that is essential to UK Plc, that is using cutting-edge technology and that provides a wide range of rewarding career pathways.

We need to couple this with the results of the Logistics UK Industry survey 2020 where respondents said the top two priorities for the industry should be to “attract young people” and to “promote the industry.”

As we know the industry is facing severe talent shortages and these must be addressed in a post Covid-19 and post-Brexit world. We urgently need young people from Level 2 to graduate level.

A CILT and Statista report said that logistics companies are expecting skills shortages to increase over the next 5 years.

Nick Ghia, General Manager UK at C.H. Robinson said in a recent CILT Focus article: “We need to get logistics into the mindsets of young people earlier. In line with the digital era of logistics, we should be looking at the gamification of logistics to introduce schoolchildren to the concept of logistics in a fun way, where they also learn analytical and problem-solving skills.”

So how do we marry supporting the post Covid-19 generation with a renewed campaign to recruit more work and apprenticeship ready young people into logistics and transport?

For the last 7 years the Think Logistics project has successfully partnered with the social mobility charity, Career Ready, to raise young people’s awareness of the logistics sector and to promote the great careers on offer to young people in the sector.

Career Ready believes that every young person, regardless of background, deserves the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding and successful future. The charity works with over 400 schools and colleges across the UK to connect young people with employers, raising their aspirations and enabling them to develop their “Skills for Career Success”.  But still the futures of far too many young people are determined by background, not potential.

As a result of the Think Logistics and Career Ready partnership over 6,000 young people have been impacted on via Think Logistics workshops, employability skills masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring, workplace visits, work placements and paid internships.

Its only by proactively engaging with young people in school and college that the logistics sector can successfully recruit young talent to meet its growing skills needs.

So I am issuing a  “call to arms” to everyone who works in logistics and supply chain to come together to support the post Covid-19 generation to ensure their futures are not blighted as a result of lost opportunities and at the same time to engage with and enthuse these young people about the great career pathways on offer in logistics and transport and help to address our growing skill shortages.

This article was written by Ian Nichol, our colleague and friend who is retiring on 31st March 2021. We wish him all the best and thank him for all of his hard work and effort on this project over the past few years.