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.

If you want to join the campaign then please contact me at ian.nichol@careerready.org.uk or on 07872989158 because talent is everywhere – opportunity is not!

Kickstart Scheme Offers Potential for Logistics Firms

The Government began rolling out its Kickstart job placement scheme this week, in an effort to create jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. The scheme offers funding to employers covering ‘100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, the associated employer National Insurance contributions [and] employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions’ according to the GOV.org website.

Young people have been particularly affected by the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19, and with hundreds of thousands of new graduates set to join the workforce, the pressure to provide viable work opportunities is increasing. According to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, ‘This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.’

The scheme allows companies to create a minimum of 30 new jobs. Smaller firms can group together to reach 30. According to Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, ‘In addition to the wages subsidy, ‘employers can sign up to receive £2,000 for each new apprentice they take on aged under 25 and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over. This offer will help more employers large and small to invest in the skilled workforce they need to help them recover and grow.’

While Kickstart has been met with a degree of optimism in many quarters, there has already been criticism from those who doubt the efficacy of the scheme. In a Financial Times opinion piece, investor Ibrahim Khan raises the possibility that young people attracted into Kickstart scheme roles will be interns in all but name, essentially cheap labour to be exploited without benefit to their future employability. Khan points out that for many, the scheme is unlikely to meet their needs or expectations; ‘The careers they want to build are also unlikely to be in the low-skilled, minimum-wage roles that the scheme mostly covers.’

Taking the reverse perspective, if those the scheme targets see it more as a lifeline to cling onto until the storm clears than as a genuine opportunity, that has ramifications for Logistics firms setting up roles in a good faith attempt to attract young people to the industry.

But this is not an incitement to cynicism. Rather, in an industry already facing challenges in recruiting youth and diversity, this may be an opportunity to make good. An influx of candidates to the recruitment pool who might otherwise have been attracted elsewhere could offer Logistics firms a chance to demonstrate that the sector is an attractive target for the keen and ambitious—if those firms can prove to scheme users that their skills development and career progression targets can be met.

Considering the rate at which the sector is having to evolve, that ought to be perfectly feasible, but making the case to potential candidates—and more importantly, those who are on the scheme, once they arrive—will require a degree of thought and commitment on the behalf of employers. Certainly, the kind of cynicism Khan warns of will not benefit recruits. Whether, in the long run, Kickstart will be provide the boost adoptees need remains in their hands.

National Forklift Safety Day promotes safer material handling industry

For the past two years, the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) has been successfully promoting the cause of UK National Forklift Safety Day, an annual June event that each year focuses on raising awareness of safe working practices for all users of material handling equipment and the importance of proper operator training.

National Forklift Safety Day began as a US initiative seven years ago, organised by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). The ethos has been adopted by BITA, which now manages the event in the UK. The association works closely with its members, together with supporting industry associations and other stakeholders to spread key safety messages across the entire material handling industry.

The inaugural UK event in 2019 focused on the theme that management is responsible for ensuring operator restraints, such as seat belts, are always used when fitted. The primary purpose of operator restraints on a forklift truck is to keep the operator within the protective structure of the truck in the event of a tip-over. It prevents the operator from sliding out of, or attempting to jump away from, the cab and being crushed between the framework and the ground. Statistics prove that seat belts save lives and management responsibility extends beyond provision of equipment and training, and includes  enforcing the use of safety equipment.

The initial campaign was well received by the industry and National Forklift Safety Day has now become a fixture on the UK material handling calendar. The key message for 2020 is that management is responsible for segregating pedestrians from material handling equipment. This is best achieved by physical barriers, but the importance of traffic planning, route marking and effective information delivery is also emphasised.

Effective segregation of workplace transport is a legal obligation for businesses. Most fatalities and serious injuries caused by impact with pedestrians are wholly avoidable by traffic route demarcation, physical barriers and other simple measures.

BITA would have supported the 2020 campaign with a physical event, just as it did in 2019, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown of the UK put paid to this. Unphased, BITA took the decision to deliver NFSD 2020 digitally. A wealth of important safety information was created especially for the day, including the development of a new, dedicated website – www.nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.uk.

David Goss, BITA Technical Manager, said: “The importance of safety within the material handling sector has been thrown into sharp focus this year in a way that could not have been imagined prior to the pandemic. With the logistics industry working at full capacity to keep up with the supply demands from the essential services, so the need to ensure the safety of every worker in the sector has never been more important.

“BITA is keen that the important safety messages promoted by National Forklift Safety Day reach as wide an audience as possible, which is why we took the decision to make all the information on the new website available without charge.

“Anyone with an interest in improving safety standards within the material handling industry should visit the website and read the information available. They will also be able to download the videos and media pack so they can promote the message of National Forklift Safety Day to their customers and suppliers, as well as their fellow employees.”

Moving forward, the portal will become the main focus of the campaign and features a wealth of freely available information related to the safety theme for every year of the event; for 2020 this being the importance of safely segregating pedestrians and MHE in the workplace. The website is also hosting a series of special videos which were specially created for the campaign, each one encapsulating a key theme.

Other material created included a campaign eBook – Segregating People from Materials Handling Equipment, poster, social media imagery, email banners, campaign logo and a simple guide on how to get the best out of National Forklift Safety Day. These continue to be available as a downloadable media pack.

The initiative proved to be a big success with strong levels of engagement from across the entire material handling sector, vindicating the decision to take the campaign digital.

“We had been concerned that the message of National Forklift Safety Day might be lost in everything that was going on due to the pandemic. However, the campaign proved to be so effective that levels of interaction were far higher than expected and I am very grateful to the industry for its support,” added Mr Goss.

Professional Training

One of fundamental principles of National Forklift Safety Day is the importance of good training – both for truck drivers and management, especially with regard to health and safety. Only professionally trained workers should ever be allowed to operate a fork lift, while management should always be aware of their legal responsibilities as failure to comply with safety requirements can be severe.

BITA’s analysis of recent RIDDOR reports shows that over a three-year period from 2016, 43% of incidents reported to involve a forklift truck were impacts with a third person. Of these, around 65% were pedestrians engaged in activities unrelated to the immediate truck operation, 20% were co-workers/supervisors and 15% delivery drivers watching or assisting with loading/unloading their vehicle.

Truck manufacturers continue to develop outstanding safety and efficiency enhancements for their product. However, these machines are only as safe as the operators that use them, therefore professional training must be adopted to ensure the safety of all users as well as other personnel in the workplace.

The benefits of such an approach are many, not least of which is proper training also minimises any insurance risk in the event of an accident.

National Forklift Safety Day will return in June 2021 and for more information on this and other aspects of the campaign, people should visit www.nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.uk

For more information on BITA and the work in conducts, visit www.bita.org.uk

BIFA champions driving apprenticeships forward

With just a few months until the end of the Brexit transition period, it is estimated that an extra 50,000 private-sector customs agents will be needed to meet additional demands.

A recent survey of BIFA members showed that a staggering 65 per cent feel they don’t have enough staff to cope with the extra demand.

In a recent article in the Financial Times, stakeholders from across the sector warned that there are critical gaps that still needed to be addressed as the industry strives to adapt to 10 new systems on 1st January 2021.

We are at an important crossroads and we must protect the future of the sector as we step ever closer to Brexit.

Unfortunately, there has been a stark decline in the number of apprenticeships starting this year, mostly owing to the impact of Covid-19.  Latest figures suggest that International Freight Forwarding Apprenticeship starts are likely to be down by 66 per cent.

As businesses struggle to regain normality and balance the books, they have a lot of difficult commercial decisions to make, but we firmly believe that shelving apprenticeships should not be one of them.

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

According to an article written by Rowena Bach, Talent Strategy Director at PeopleScout, the latest government statistics for March 2020 show apprenticeship starts are down by a quarter while numbers in April plunged by 72 per cent on the previous year.

The disruption caused to colleges and businesses meant many apprenticeships were unable to start or continue, which is inevitably limiting opportunities for young people to join the logistics sector.

 

Extra support when it is needed

In July, the Chancellor of the Exchequer scaled up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships in response to the unprecedented times.

For new starts between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021, businesses are being offered £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The news came just weeks after the government made an additional £50m available to accelerate growth of the UK’s customs intermediary sector via training.

In addition, the government has pledged that if apprentices are made redundant, it aims to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible.

However, we know it isn’t always as easy as that. Another option being implemented by employers is a ‘break in learning’ policy with extensions to assessment time frames, which is a viable and workable alternative.

 

BIFA’s commitment to the cause

BIFA is one of the largest providers of freight forwarding and customs-related training courses. It is currently delivering courses via video conferencing due to the Covid-19 crisis.

BIFA helped create the International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship which went live in 2018.

It has been described as an ideal entry point into the sector by industry leaders and more than 430 apprentices have already taken this pathway to great success.

Set at Level 3 (A Level) with a minimum duration of 18 months, the apprenticeship provides students with core knowledge and skills including industry awareness, customs procedures and commercial knowledge.

Apprentices are given the option of one of three pathways to follow: air freight, ocean freight or road freight.

Carl Hobbis, Training and Development Manager, at BIFA said: “We are ready to help any of our members that are willing to capitalise on the government funding being made available to either recruit apprentices, make traineeships available or increase training for existing employees.

“With an unprecedented need for more customs experts, an apprenticeship in freight forwarding is an extremely effective way to meet the current skills gap.

“While the government information needs to be more accurate and clearer, they have promised significant investment in the GB-EU border.

“It is absolutely imperative that businesses invest in new talent and plan their future talent strategy. While time is ticking towards the Brexit deadline, any decisions taken now can only strengthen teams with young people that add fresh impetus and new ideas.

“Employers shouldn’t underestimate the amount of time needed to train someone to become competent in customs procedures so the sooner they start the better.

“We will continue to encourage employers and potential entrants to consider the International Freight Forwarding (IFF) Specialist Apprenticeship as a route into the industry.

“Protecting the future of the logistics sector is the responsibility of everyone involved, and action is needed to ensure a stable and profitable future for all. More than ever, we need industry leaders to support virtual events with schools, colleges and community groups, to promote the sector. Not enough was done in this area pre-COVID, it should be easier now.

“We are urging every company that works in our sector to promote it by supporting careers initiatives at schools, colleges and in community settings and, most importantly, give someone an opportunity.

“If the industry pulled together and each gave one person a chance it would make a huge difference to the future of our sector.

 

Visit BIFA’s dedicated apprenticeship website to find out more  apprentices.bifa.org

 

Talent in Logistics Celebrates the Sector

Laptop showcasing Awards Night

The fourth annual Talent in Logistics Awards for 2020 took place on Thursday 1 October and was not quite the glittering awards ceremony that we have become accustomed to, but given the extraordinary circumstances the sector has found itself in this year, the team at Talent in Logistics thought it only right to deliver a virtual awards night that promoted the celebration and recognition of all those working in logistics.

Among those taking away an award were GEFCO in the Best Place to Work category, with judges being hugely impressed by the high levels of employee engagement, the commitment shown to health and wellbeing and an impressive investment into people development.

Meanwhile, Kate Lester of Diamond Logistics was named Inspirational Leader of the Year, while Collaboration in People Development went to Hermes and Abbey Logistics scooped the Training Team of the Year title.

The awards night also featured the Forklift Operator of the Year announcement, which followed a series of exciting, interactive and live challenges earlier in September – finalists went head-to-head for the title, and it was won by Scott Trotham of National Composites Centre.

This year also included the second LGV Driver of the Year competition, and for this there was not 1 but 2 prizes. The CAT C competition was won by Ryan Hunt of Bidfood and the CAT C + E was won by Carl Webster of Buffaload Logistics. This accolade not only celebrated the drivers who are the face of the logistics sector, but provided another thrilling live spectacle hosted at the National Logistics Academy headquarters.

The Talent in Logistics Awards also saw categories, such as Innovation in Recruitment and Rising Star, which were awarded to Business on the Move and Sadie Booth of Pertemps Driver Training respectively.

Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director at Talent in Logistics, said: “Our awards are testimony to the hard working, inspirational and fantastic people we have in this sector. Standards of entries were exceptionally high, and showcased the very best in innovation, engagement and tenacity. I’ve been really encouraged by the number of businesses putting team members and initiatives forward, despite the challenges we have faced as a sector this year, which speaks volumes about the confidence they have in their work, as well as the future of logistics and its people strategies.”

The winners announced on the night were:

  • Best Place to Work; GEFCO
  • Collaboration in People Development; HERMES
  • Industry Ambassador of the Year; JENNIFER SWAIN, ROAD TO LOGISTICS
  • Inspirational Leader of the Year; KATE LESTER, DIAMOND LOGISTICS
  • Instructor of the Year; STEVEN SADLER, KENT FORKLIFT TRAINING
  • Innovation in Recruitment; BUSINESS ON THE MOVE
  • Innovative Training Programme; RTITB & MA-SYSTEM
  • Rising Star of the Year; SADIE BOOTH, PERTEMPS DRIVER TRAINING
  • Training Provider of the Year; FLEET SOURCE
  • Training Team of the Year; ABBEY LOGISTICS GROUP
  • Health, Safety and Wellbeing; CLIPPER LOGISTICS
  • Forklift Operator of the Year; SCOTT TROTHAM, NATIONAL COMPOSITES CENTRE
  • LGV Driver of the Year (CAT C); RYAN HUNT, BIDFOOD
  • LGV Driver of the Year (CAT C+E); CARL WEBSTER, BUFFALOAD LOGISTICS

Ruth added “The main aim for this year’s awards was to celebrate the sector together with organisations and individuals to shine a light on all of its achievements despite the challenging conditions, ensuring our key focus is on the people who are seldom recognised, but without whom our sector could not survive, and we feel that we achieved this.”

Go in or Stay Home?

Working from Home

The government is once again asking British people to ‘work from home if you can’ amid fears a second lockdown may be approaching. The request comes amid a surge in coronavirus infections which has built steadily throughout the month.

The message represents a rapid retreat from the government’s 1st September  campaign to get people back into the workplace. But cases have been rising across Europe since mid-July, with Spain and Greece suffering serious resurgences and the UK following close behind.

In light of this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the following comment in his speech to Parliament outlining the new restrictions; ‘unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will last perhaps six months.’ The Prime Minister later noted that workers should keep going in if it is important for their job, mental health, or wellbeing.

Advice on the GOV.UK website singles out office workers particularly, stating that those ‘who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter’, adding, ‘where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’

The leeway this offers presents those working in logistics with a decision about how to proceed that will need to be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. One of the key concerns is likely to be balancing the risk of infection with other physical and mental health concerns.

This risk becomes particularly significant when we consider the dramatic increase in health issues that follows in the wake of financial crisis. An report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies in April, citing a paper by Janke et al. (2020), stated, ‘if employment were to fall by the same amount as it fell in the 12 months after the 2008 crisis, around 900,000 more people of working age would be predicted to suffer from a chronic health condition’, with mental health issues accounting for the largest share.

Speaking to HR Magazine, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD advised that employers ‘ensure managers are regularly checking in with their teams, are asking about their wellbeing and signposting to support services where necessary.’

But while sensitive conversations will play a part in safeguarding mental health, it is important to recognise that it is economic hardship and uncertainty causing these outcomes, and even the frankest conversations and best resources can only do so much to mitigate these.

More than anything, employees will need clear information on how the situation is progressing and how their lives may be affected. Also speaking to HR, Shakeel Dad, employment partner at the law firm Addleshaw Goddard, noted, ‘more will become clearer in the coming days, but one thing that remains clear is that transparency and open communication with employees remains key.’

The decision of who comes in and who stays home is not one to be taken lightly, and with the GOV.UK website offering advice to employees who feel they are being pressured to return to an unsafe environment, a rise in work disputes may be another of the unfortunate side effects of the pandemic.

This makes ensuring our workplaces follow Covid-secure guidelines all the more essential in the coming weeks. Those who must return to the workplace need to be able to do so with the risk of infection mitigated as much as possible.

Sources

Covid-19: The Mental Health Cost

Covid-19: The Mental Health Cost

As the Covid-19 crisis has developed, we have learned a great deal about the physical impact of this new illness. But the threat to mental health may also be very significant. Recent reports from Public Health England and the Health Foundation have identified a number of repercussions both for sufferers and the wider population.

For sufferers, the mental and physical toll of contracting and recovering from such a distressing illness can result in a variety of negative outcomes. According to an Italian study published in August, 55% of the 402 patients participating were observed to be suffering a mental health condition, with PTSD, anxiety, depression and even symptoms of OCD scoring highly. The causes of these effects could be both social and physiological, according to the study’s authors, who cited physical inflammation as well as isolation, fear of infecting others, social stigma and mental trauma as potential contributing factors.

In more extreme cases, Covid-19 sufferers have even reported experiencing hallucinations and panic attacks. In light of these lingering effects and the pressures associated with lockdown, calls are being made for employers to respond with care when dealing with employee sufferers, with one researcher calling on employers ‘to show flexibility in helping Covid survivors return to work,’ according to a report in the Guardian.

The mental health costs of the illness are not limited to those incurred by sufferers, however. Fears regarding the illness, grief over lost loved ones and anxiety stemming from the economic crisis are also contributing to an increase in the rate of psychiatric disorders. Public Health England’s September 8 report states that ‘mental distress… was 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019’, and that ‘over 30% of adults reported levels of mental distress indicative that treatment may be needed, compared to around 20% between 2017 and 2019.’

The report goes on to stress that the pandemic ‘has had a larger adverse impact on the mental health and wellbeing of some groups than others’, identifying young people and women as particularly vulnerable.

This supports the findings of the Health Foundation’s August 30 publication ‘Generation COVID-19’, which reported ‘young people aged 12–24 years are one of the worst-affected groups, particularly in terms of the labour market and mental health outcomes.’ A significantly higher number of young people reported struggling to concentrate, not being able to enjoy day-to-day activities, feeling unhappy and depressed and not feeling useful in comparison to 2017/18 figures.

Taking these phenomena into account, it is more important than ever that the logistics sector pays heed to the mental health needs of all colleagues. In 2019, logistics was identified by Dr Sheena Johnson, occupational psychologist at Alliance Manchester Business School as ‘one of the sectors exposed to the effects of poor mental health.’ The potential for exposure is only increasing under the prolonged stress of the pandemic. Possible suggestions for addressing this stress may come from the 2019 Alliance MBS guidelines for managing the health of logistics sector workers, which include monitoring health, offering access to healthy food and increasing flexibility over work hours.

Sources

LGV Driver of the Year Finalists Announced

LGV driver of the year

Talent in Logistics is happy to announce the shortlisted finalists for our 2020 LGV Driver of the Year Competition.  

The drivers who will compete in the live finals on 14th September are as follows:

  • Carl Webster – Buffaload Logistics Ltd
  • Christopher Marsh – Ford Motor Company
  • David Filby – Whitehead Co
  • Dean Donoghue – Kuehne + Nagel
  • Gare MacQuarrie – Hermes
  • James Murphy-Sykes – Greggs
  • Nigel Theobold – Driving Talent Ltd
  • Phil Caygill – Severn Trent
  • Ronald Cullum – Kuehne + Nagel
  • Ryan Hunt – Bidfood

By reaching the next phase of the competition, these finalists have already fought off competition from the many other drivers that entered the award. 

They will now attend a one-day competition on 14th September at the National Logistics Academy’s LGV training and test centre in Manchester. Throughout the day, they will embark on challenges designed by the expert judges to test their professionalism and safe driving skills. These will include an assessed drive, manoeuvring challenges, walk round checks and a theory test.

All shortlisted drivers who take part in the event, as well as their employers and colleagues, are invited to attend the free Talent in Logistics Awards 2020 online event on the 1st October. The winner of this award, as well as others recognising and rewarding the many different hardworking and inspiring heroes in the logistics sector, will only be announced on the night.

Be part of the celebration!

Register to attend the online Talent in Logistics Awards 2020 now.

Furlough: Inequality & getting back to work

Remember 23rd March? It was the day that many businesses saw activity quickly come to a halt as the Government fought to contain the spread of Covid-19 through lockdown.

Soon enough in April, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was put in place to provide stability and security for those who were unable to continue working, whether this was due to lack of workload or temporary business closure. Since then, according to statistics by HMRC, over 9 million jobs have been furloughed and more than £35 billion has been claimed through PAYE schemes.

What those figures don’t show is that women were significantly more likely to be furloughed. A study by Cambridge-INET Institute found that inequality in care responsibilities played a large role in this, as mothers were more likely than fathers to initiate furlough talks, as opposed to their employers raising the issue.

The study also found that not all employees were furloughed equally, with some employers topping up employee’s salaries beyond the 80% provided by the government, while others didn’t. For those that weren’t put on furlough, many continued to work as they found they could still carry out their roles from the comfort of their own homes, putting in almost as many working hours as back in February 2020.

So, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end in a few months’ time, many workers are still unsure of what lies ahead for their position.

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said recently, “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.”

From the beginning of August, furloughed workers were able to return to work part-time with employers asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. Boris Johnson himself called for employees to return to work to boost a declining economy.

However, some of the country’s biggest businesses are defying this push by the government, with many businesses opting to continue to work remotely or delaying a partial return until September 2020 at the earliest. Some companies such as Google and NatWest are instead allowing their staff to work from home until 2021, showing a somewhat more permanent sign of a shift in the working culture.

With talks of a second wave of the virus looming, the government’s initial plans for a ‘significant normality’ by Christmas may be up in the air for now.

Coronavirus has not only heavily impacted the economy and working lives, but also shifted opinions on what is safe. For example, day-to-day activities such as bowling, going to the cinema or sitting next to a colleague in the office – where you wouldn’t have necessarily questioned safety and would have been a normality – now feel anything but ‘normal’.

It could be a very long time before people truly feel comfortable getting back to their routines of just earlier this year and begs the question of whether the working world will ever be the same again?

Sources