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

Talent in Logistics Awards 2020 Finalists Announced

The finalists for this year’s Talent in Logistics Awards have been announced. Winners will be revealed at the annual awards event, which will take place online on the evening of 1st October 2020.

“We are absolutely thrilled that despite this year’s challenges, logistics organisations have taken the time to submit really inspiring, high quality award entries,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “Everyone has played an important part in keeping operations moving in recent months, so we’re excited that we’ll have chance to recognise the exceptional people at every level on the awards night.”

Finalists are from large and small organisations in the logistics sector, including well-known names such as Next, Boots, Hermes, Wincanton, Clipper Logistics, and Kuehne + Nagel.

They have been selected by a panel of judges including Ian Gainford, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner for DVSA, Gwen Carter Powell, International Manager for Investors in People, Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy & Standards for Institute of Leadership and Management, Michael Bourlakis, Head of Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management for Cranfield School of Management, Edward Sweeney, Professor of Logistics & Systems for Aston University, Ian Nichol, Head of Logistics for Career Ready, and Shane Brennan, Chief Executive Officer for The Cold Chain Federation.

See the full list of shortlisted finalists here:
https://www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/awards/2020-finalists/

“We want everyone across the sector to have chance to join in our celebrations this year,” says Ruth. “So, to ensure the event is as accessible as possible, we have made registration for the live streamed online event completely free.”

Winners for all categories will be announced only on the awards evening. Register to attend the online awards: https://www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/awards/attend/

The shortlisted finalists for the Talent in Logistics Awards 2020 are:

Best Place to Work

• Clipper Logistics
• Diamond Logistics Limited
• GEFCO UK
• Ligentia
• PD Ports
• Wincanton (Northampton)

Collaboration in People Development

• BIFA
• Clipper Logistics
• Hermes UK
• PD Ports
• Pertemps Driver Training

Health Safety and Wellbeing

• Clipper Logistics
• PD Ports

Industry Ambassador

• Gary Tucker – Network Training Partnership Ltd
• Jennifer Swain
• Samantha Leleu – Pertemps Driver Training

Innovation in Recruitment

• Business on the Move
• DHL in partnership with Cappfinity
• Pall-Ex (UK) Ltd

Innovative Training Programme

• Clipper Logistics
• Pertemps Driver Training
• RTITB and MA-system

Inspirational Leader

• Kate Lester – Diamond Logistics
• Kimberley McIntosh – Royal Mail
• Nathan Humphreys – Wincanton

Instructor of the Year

• Darrell Stagg – Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics
• John David Bradley – Next
• Matt Brooks – Rock City Stage Crew
• Paul Lumb – Wincanton
• Petrus Moldoveanu – Boots UK
• Ryan Small – Small Training Solutions
• Steven Sadler – Kent Forklift Training

Rising Star of the Year

• Anthony Marriott – Wincanton
• Matthew Hand – JK Transport
• Rachel Thornton – GIST Ltd
• Sadie Booth – Pertemps Driver Training
• Sarah Louise Thornton – Arla Foods
• Varsha-Ghetia – Wincanton

Training Provider of the Year

• Fleet Source Ltd
• JM Trucking Ltd
• Network Training Partnership Ltd
• Pegasus Lift Truck Training Ltd
• Qube Learning
• Small Training Solutions

Training Team of the Year

• Abbey Logistics Group
• Network Training Partnership Ltd
• Pegasus Lift Truck Training Ltd

For further details or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, contact info@talentinlogistics.co.uk or call +44 (0)1952 520216.

Deep Recession

Deep Recession

Coronavirus lockdown measures have pushed the country into its biggest economic decline since records began. ONS figures show that GDP fell by 20.4% in the second quarter. In comparison, the US experienced only a 10.6% fall over the same period, while during the worst period of the 2008 recession, GDP fell by less than 3%.

Monthly figures show that the easing of lockdown measures had caused the economy to recover somewhat in June, with a surprise 8.7% spurt in growth. Nevertheless, the government is predicting a far longer road to recovery, with Boris Johnson warning, ‘Some parts of the economy are undoubtedly showing great resilience but clearly there are going to be bumpy months ahead and a long, long way to go.’

Attempts to put a date on recovery vary. The Bank of England predicts that it will take until late 2021 for the economy to reach a pre-pandemic level of health. Other observers forecast an even longer slump.

In a July report aimed at assessing the impact of the recession on the logistics industry, the recruitment agency Driver Require predicted that the recession ‘will take the form of a quick decline, swiftly followed by a rapid partial recovery […] and then a prolonged “U-shaped” recession,’ which could take as long as 5 years to clear. Thus far, the prediction appears to be borne out by statistics.

In contrast to gloomy GDP figures, unemployment figures show little change, with the unemployment rate estimated at a stable 3.9% and the percentage of the UK population aged 16-64 in work until recently at the crest of a 20 year high. These appearances, however, are deceptive, with furlough artificially propping up the figures.

With furlough ending after October, unemployment may rise precipitously, with chancellor Rishi Sunak stating the government should not pretend that ‘absolutely everybody can and will be able to go back to the job they had.’

The news may be particularly bad for LGV drivers. Reviewing the effects of the 2008 Great Recession, Driver Require noted that LGV driver employment numbers ‘dropped by almost twice as much as general employment and took 1.5 times longer to recover’, adding, ‘we are likely to see a 10% drop in demand for LGV drivers through 2021, gradually improving over the following three years.’

Much like the UK economy, some sectors of the logistics industry are showing ‘great resilience’, fuelled by the increased demand from online shopping. Others, however, are suffering—particularly logistics businesses with strong ties to the ailing service sector; ‘up to half of the nation’s remaining truck fleet has stood idle during the peak of the crisis’, according to Driver Require.

With pubs and restaurants at risk of renewed closures, the storm looks set to continue. Nevertheless, Driver Require strike a note of cautious optimism in concluding their analysis. ‘We expect a levelling of the playing field over the next couple of years, which will provide the survivors, i.e. those with more robust, value-adding business models with greater agility and better cash management, with exciting openings for growth and profit generation.’

Sources

Talent in Logistics Puts Forklift Operators to the Test

This year, the Talent in Logistics Award for Forklift Operator of the Year will be determined by a series of virtual competition finals in September, specially adapted to keep people socially distanced and safe.

The Forklift Operator of the Year award, delivered in partnership with UniCarriers, will be filmed and made available to watch via You Tube and social media to ensure those across the sector still have the opportunity to support their friends, family and colleagues and be part of the event.  

“Notoriously, the Forklift Operator of the Year live finals are something of a spectacle and great fun for all involved – competitors and spectators alike,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “Although the competition set-up will be slightly different this time around, the events will still retain the same sense of fun and entertainment, as well as of course closely examining the talent and knowledge of operators to identify the best of the best.”

Previously planned as regional heats taking place during the summer of 2020, the virtual competition finals will now take place in Telford, UK, on the 9th, 10th and 11th September. The top 30 competitors from the earlier online testing stage have been invited to participate and will be required to complete four different tests to identify their level of operating skill and knowledge. 

The tests for 2020 will be themed around the Olympics, with tasks inspired by basketball, weightlifting, show-jumping, and golf. Competitors will take part in three practical tests, one of which will include operating a forklift with attachment, as well as one classroom-based test of knowledge. 

As well as being developed to be motivating and engaging for the Forklift Operators, all of the tests are designed to adhere to social distancing recommendations, and extra health and hygiene processes will be followed during the competitions for the safety of all involved.  The finalists for the Forklift Operator of the Year award will be announced at the end of the three-day event.

“Forklift operators are a vital asset in an essential economy sector. Their job requires skill, motivation and constant attentiveness,” states Chris Bates, Managing Director at UniCarriers. “With the Forklift Operator of the Year competition, we want to throw the spotlight on them and thank them for their valuable contribution to the industry.  It’s great that we can still do so virtually.”  

During the event, UniCarriers will also present other vehicles during digital demonstrations, including more counterbalance trucks, reach trucks, order pickers and pallet trucks.

Finalists will complete all tests using the UniCarriers TX3 electric counterbalance forklift truck, winner of the International Forklift of the Year (IFOY) 2019 and the Red Dot Award 2018, including one specially equipped with a relevant attachment provided by Abbey Attachments.

The overall winner of the Forklift Operator of the Year will be revealed at the online Talent in Logistics Awards night on 1st October 2020. This unique awards event is free to attend and will enable anyone across the supply chain to find out the winners from all awards categories, as well as participate in a virtual networking event, and join in a celebration of the heroes in the logistics sector. 

To be part of the Talent in Logistics Awards, register for a free place: https://www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/awards/attend/ 

To watch the live Forklift Operator of the Year virtual finals, visit https://www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/live-competitions/forklift-operator-of-the-year/

Forklift Operator of the Year Finalists Announced

Talent in Logistics is happy to announce the shortlisted finalists for the 2020 Forklift Operator of the Year Competition 2020.

The competition, which is being held in partnership with UniCarriers for the fourth consecutive year, is one the many events Talent in Logistics organises to reward and recognise key workers from within the sector.

The shortlisted finalists for the 2020 award will compete as follows:

9th September

  • Keely Hadfield – Mantra Learning
  • Samantha Tyson – PPG Architectural Coatings UK Ltd
  • Craig Colbeck – PPG Architectural Coatings UK Ltd
  • Stephen Walker – Malcolm Logistics
  • Ricky Mustoe – Idea Recruitment
  • Scott Trotham – National Composite Centre

10th September

  • Steve Desborough – Howdens
  • Gerald Clinton – Lyreco
  • Jason Leech – Evander Glazing and Locks
  • Mark Hickman – Premier Access Solutions
  • Stewart Loades – D and F McCarthy
  • Carl Richards

11th September

  • Marc Bonsor – Richard Johnston’s
  • Hacene Chaher – Knowhow
  • Ross Smith – Veolia ES Field Services Ltd
  • Alun Thomas – Huntleigh Healthcare
  • Matthew Kitching – WT Distribution
  • Chris Martin – DHL Parcels UK

All our amazing finalists have been selected based on their scores from an earlier online test. They will now join the judging team in Telford, at the Talent in Logistics headquarters, for a day of live tests. The finals will be held in a safe environment, with social distancing observed and no access to the general public. More details regarding the competition finals can be found here.

The winner of the Forklift Operator of the Year award will be revealed during the unique online Talent in Logistics Awards ceremony on 1st October, and will be the recipient of a £1000 cash prize.

We encourage our supporters and any colleagues, friends or family of the competitors to register to watch the virtual competition finals to see the operators demonstrating their high level of skills and show them your support.

To register please visit here.

 

NIESR: Ending Furlough ‘Premature’

Ending Furlough ‘Premature’

The pending discontinuation of the furlough scheme will push unemployment as high as 10%, according to a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Government plans to phase the scheme out by October have been labelled ‘premature’.

NIESR Deputy Director Gary Young praised the furlough scheme, saying it ‘has been an undeniable success in terms of keeping furloughed employees attached to their jobs’, but warned that ‘the planned closure of the furlough seems to be a mistake, motivated by an understandable desire to limit spending.’

The scheme, which covers 80% of employee wages plus National Insurance and pension contributions, was originally intended to last until the end of July 2020, though this was later extended to the end of October.

The report’s authors emphasised that ‘the economic outlook is extremely uncertain’ in an accompanying press release, identifying effective policy as the crucial component in mitigating damage to the economy. That damage is estimated to include a GDP drop of 10%, with the economy not predicted to recover to pre-Covid levels for another three years.

Even that might not be the end of the road to economic recovery. Of particular concern is the danger that unemployment levels will remain high even after the economy has bounced back. The report warns that unemployment ‘could stay above its current level in the coming years due to economic scarring and hysteresis’.

The term hysteresis describes a ratchet effect whereby short-term changes to the labour market become difficult to reverse. According to this hypothesis, a combination of factors may conspire to keep unemployment up, including the demotivating effect of unemployment on workers, and the rate at which skills are lost or become obsolete. The tendency for companies to use employment history as a filter in hiring decisions may increase the demand for those who were lucky enough to keep their jobs—allowing them to lobby or compete effectively for higher salaries—while simultaneously deepening the challenge for unemployed workers.

In light of the risk of hysteresis, the report’s authors have suggested extending the scheme until June 2021, ‘could protect around a million jobs later this year at relatively small cost and with lasting economic benefits.’ The Covid crisis itself may offer a means to finance such an extension. The public sector borrowing necessary to fund this extension could effectively be financed by ‘higher private sector saving’. According to Young, ‘people are saving more because they can’t spend and indirectly that’s financing the government spending.’

As for the long-term remedy for rising unemployment, the logistics sector may have a key role to play. With Hermes creating 10,500 jobs and Amazon 15,000 amid a surge in online shopping, demand for couriers and warehouse pickers remains strong. Other sectors looking to hire include food retail, domestic cleaning, and IT, with skills in web development, online security and software engineering supporting many firms’ responses to the crisis. Whether these jobs remain permanent or demand wanes with the quickening of the economy remains to be seen.

Sources:

Racial Inclusion Matters

Racial Inclusion

When asked to write this piece for SHD I must say I was slightly apprehensive. The conversation around racial discrimination can be hard to start, but is so important in order to educate yourself,  educate others and do everything you can to eliminate unconscious bias.

First, you must understand the difference between equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace – they often get termed together with little understanding or respect for the differences.

Equality relates to opportunities provided to employees no matter what their differences and is quite often linked to being legally compliant. Diversity is where an employer actively seeks to recruit people that are different whether that be race, religion, gender, sexuality etc. The best definition I have seen for Inclusion is one that defines it as a state where all employees feel valued despite their differences and most importantly feels like they can add value too.

The UK is increasingly diverse, so it is important to recognise that organisations headed up by white males can no longer expect to be able to recruit people who are just like them. Organisations should recognise and embrace the multicultural world we live in within their recruitment strategies to work towards a culture of inclusion.  And this offers business benefits too.

Companies with the most ethnically diverse teams are reported to be 33% more profitable, and an inclusive business is naturally more creative and innovative. Did you know that being a diverse employer will also lead to better recruitment and retention rates? And that an inclusive culture at work helps empower employees?

The best leaders and organisations will recognise the many benefits of a culture of inclusion. They seek out differing opinions, they trust that a diversity of ideas and thoughts gives them a massive advantage and that this will only enhance the corporate vision, not damage it.    

Racial discrimination and inequality

When we refer to race, this means being part of a group of people who are identified by their race, colour, nationality, citizenship, or ethnic or national origins. It is illegal to discriminate in any form against somebody due to their race. Yet despite this, half of employees have come across racism in the workplace and people of colour only represent about 8% of the FTSE100 director population. What’s more black and ethnic minority candidates send, on average, 16 job applications before receiving a positive response, where a white candidate would only need to send 9. And did you know that unemployment levels for BAME graduates are two and a half times higher than for white graduates?

Of course, the UK Government must play a role in responding to this issue and adapt current legislation in order to tackle inequalities in employment. Not only that, they need to look at the education system and understand any disadvantages faced before those from minorities even enter the world of work. However, it is also time for employers to take action to try to address this racial divide.

Tackling the issue with training

Talking about racism can be daunting to those who are uneducated on the topic, or fear saying the wrong thing so it is important to establish any training needs here. Providing your management team and employees with training around EDI and enhancing their understanding is vital if you wish to make that step change.

Employees must also understand they need to listen to each other. White employees should recognise that it is not solely the job of their ethnically diverse colleagues to talk about equality, diversity, and inclusion. This dialogue is important in order to raise awareness of any issues and build relationships between colleagues. Keeping a lid on systemic racial issues and leaving employees to internalise problems because they don’t feel they can talk about them could lead to huge reputational damage for an organisation.

It is also important to understand that race discrimination is not always deliberate. Someone may be discriminating against a person without even realising it or meaning to. This leads us on to unconscious bias.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias and racism have some very clear distinctions. Racism refers to an explicit belief that some races are superior/inferior to others, whereas unconscious bias is when social stereotypes about certain groups of people are formed by individuals outside their conscious awareness. While these biases are often incompatible with a person’s conscious values, both racism and unconscious bias can have negative effects within the workplace. So employees need to understand these biases in order to interrupt the norm.

Unconscious bias is particularly prevalent in recruitment or when teams form/merge as it often occurs as part of a first impression. Now of course this can go favourably too. For example, if an interviewer finds out the candidate supports the same sports team then anything negative from that point on could be overlooked.

Conversely, negative stereotypes can be formed based on a persons’ ethnicity, for example, or maybe an accent on a telephone interview leads to assumptions about that person. What if a recruiter receives a CV with a ‘different sounding’ name on it? Maybe they find it too difficult to pronounce or can’t automatically tell the applicant’s gender, and this makes them feel uncomfortable.

All of the above examples have nothing to do with a persons skills and attributes or their ability to do the role, so you need to create a culture within your organisation that challenges and discusses these biases. You may want to remove the chance of bias through things such as “blind” CV’s, where names and gender are not included.

Taking Action

It’s not enough to just talk about creating a culture of EDI. It is about organisations and business leaders holding themselves to account and taking action. They must review whether their claims that they are a diverse and inclusive employer on recruitment adverts is true and dig deeper to understand if the opportunities their ethnically diverse employees get are truly equal and remedy any disparities. It is about looking at your data and not only identifying what needs to be done, but doing it!

Where the problems are systemic it may require massive business disruptions in order to create a long lasting change. Even immediate action may take a long time to yield results. The Employers Networking for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) themselves say that full inclusion is a temporary state that few organisations will ever achieve, so it must be understood that a drive for continuous improvement in this area is in the best interest of all involved.

There is a new narrative beginning to take shape. There is a spotlight on racism, and I for one am optimistic for the future if we all maintain our focus on this important issue.

Forklift Operator Refresher Training Essential for a Safe Return to Work

Forklift Operator Refresher Training

At Talent in Logistics, we are passionate about looking after the welfare of the hard-working and talented people throughout the supply chain. If you employ lift truck operators, please read the helpful guidance below from RTITB regarding re-assessment and refresher training as your lift truck operators return to work. Lets work together to keep our valuable people safe and the supply chain running.

To maintain safety and compliance as operations resume and forklift operators return to work, RTITB is reminding employers of the necessity to provide assessments and refresher training.

“We are now, fortunately, in a situation where many operations are re-starting or returning to pre-lockdown capacity, and where many forklift operators who had been on furlough are returning to work,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director for RTITB, the UK’s leading workplace transport training accrediting body.  “Alongside considerations around PPE, hygiene and social distancing, employers must also provide the operator training and assessment that is required for both safety, and compliance.”

In March 2020, for those businesses remaining operational, the Health and Safety Executive permitted authorisations to operate for material handling equipment (MHE) operators to be extended by up to three months if it was not possible to deliver refresher training due to Covid-19 (and subject to fulfilment of particular requirements). Although they have not had time away from the workplace, these forklift operators may also now be due refresher training to retain their authorisation to operate.

“There are several ways that employers can approach this situation to remain compliant and keep their people safe,” explains Laura. “Where operators are returning to work having not used a truck for some time, the most assured method of compliance would be to provide refresher training prior to re-instating their authorisation to operate.”

“Alternatively, you could opt to carry out an assessment on all of your operators prior to re-authorisation and provide refresher training only to those who do not meet the assessment criteria,” she continues, explaining that the best course of action will vary, depending on what is reasonably practicable in different businesses.

However, the HSE guidance remains that employers must not allow any employee to operate MHE without re-assessment or re-training if their authorisation to operate has expired, or if they’ve been away from work for a period of time.

To identify the best course of action and assess potential risks as forklift operators return to work, RTITB recommends that an employer should consider five key questions.

  1. Is the returning operator recently qualified or relatively inexperienced?
  2. Is the operator within scope of existing company policies (for example, does the operator return to work policy require retraining after a four-month absence)?
  3. Is the operator lacking confidence or requesting extra support? Employers should talk to the operator to find out how they are feeling about returning to work.
  4. Does the returning operator have a history of poor operating?
  5. Is a competent Instructor or training organisation available to help?

“However the employer chooses to roll out assessment or refresher training, they should also provide increased supervision and work-based observations of forklift operators once they’re back in the workplace,” says Laura. “This helps ensure their continued correct operational ability at a time where safety is more of a priority than ever.”

RTITB online knowledge top-up courses to support refresher training are available now. Visit www.rtitb.com/elearning to find out more or call RTITB for advice on +44(0)1952 520 200.

For more information on RTITB Accredited Partner organisations that can provide forklift operator assessments and refresher training, visit www.rtitb.com/course-locator .

Only 30% of LGV drivers feel valued, finds new Talent in Logistics research

Driver Engagement White Paper

According to a recent survey by Talent in Logistics, just 30% of LGV drivers in the UK feel valued. The driver engagement research, which surveyed more than 1,300 respondents during February and March 2020, also found that less than half of drivers feel motivated to work hard for their employers, signifying testing times ahead for the logistics sector.

Carried out in collaboration with Pertemps Driving Division, prior to the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, the driver engagement survey sought to investigate how LGV drivers across the country really feel about their role and employers, giving them a unique platform to share their experiences and opinions.

The survey also showed that fewer than half of drivers believe that their company is diverse and inclusive in their recruitment. This was reinforced by the demographics of the survey respondents – more than 7 out of 10 drivers surveyed (72.5%) were aged 41 or over, and 95% were male.

The research also found that fewer than half of the drivers surveyed said that they felt proud (47%) or motivated (49%) to work for their company. Looking at survey results collectively, overall employee engagement for LGV drivers is around 48%.  This is considerably lower than the national average, where two-thirds of UK workers are satisfied with their jobs* and signifies a potentially serious engagement issue within this sector.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, drivers have been working extra hours to keep the country moving as ‘key workers’ – it’s never been more apparent that they are vital to the supply chain,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “However, our survey shows that employers have a long way to go to make drivers feel engaged, valued and important.”

“As the UK’s largest provider of professional drivers within the driving and logistics industries; Pertemps Driving Division jumped at the opportunity to partner with Talent In Logistics and give drivers a real voice to help bring about positive change and improvements for their profession,” says Samantha Leleu, GM for Pertemps Driving Division. “The industry has faced real challenges for several years and these challenges became even greater during the recent pandemic. However, if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is to value the key workers we have in this country.”

The detailed results of the driver engagement survey are revealed in a new white paper published by Talent in Logistics, titled ‘Driving Engagement in Logistics’.  This also makes practical recommendations on how to increase driver engagement, considering drivers’ attitudes to reward and recognition, salaries, leadership, wellbeing and more.

According to the white paper, evidence for the importance of employee engagement is compelling. Companies with high levels of employee engagement are reported to see a 40% decrease in their staff turnover rate. Conversely, organisations with a low engagement rate report, on average, 42% more accidents within the workplace.

“It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to LGV drivers,” says Talent in Logistics’ Ruth Edwards. “Yes, there is a worrying skills shortage in this sector and clearly significant engagement issues to overcome, but many of the drivers we surveyed loved their profession, for many different reasons.”

“There can be no doubts whatsoever that drivers are essential components to keep the country running at all times,” adds Samantha Leleu. “It has therefore never been as important to listen to what they have to say to ensure we protect and recognise their valuable contribution to our economy – in the very near future, driving must become an aspirational career for other groups as we strive to tackle a growing driver shortage.”

Ruth Edwards concludes, “Now is the time for employers to grab the opportunity to celebrate the role of the driver and build a motivated workforce that can contribute to the bright future of this crucial sector.”

To download the ‘Driving Engagement in Logistics whitepaper’, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/download/whitepaper-driving-engagement-in-logistics.

For more information, call the team on 01952 520216 or email talentinlogistics@captib.co.uk.

 

*CIPD Working Lives Survey 2018

PM Promises Apprenticeship Boost

Boris Johnson has backed proposals for an ‘apprenticeship guarantee’ aimed at ensuring young people have access to vocational training. The prime minister’s comments come amid urgent calls for the government to tackle unemployment in the wake of COVID-19.

logistics apprenticeships boostJohnson gave support for the proposals in a letter to the chair of the Commons Liaison Committee, stating, ‘Apprenticeships will play a vital role in the economic recovery, ensuring that employers and people of all backgrounds develop the skills they need to succeed.’ The letter went on to make a commitment to supporting small businesses that want to take apprentices this year.

The idea was originally suggested by chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon. According to Halfon, such a guarantee could ‘close the skills divide and help those from disadvantaged backgrounds’. The guarantee would be backed using funds raised through the apprenticeship levy introduced in 2017, used in a ‘very strategic way’.

The levy was cause for controversy earlier this year when Education Secretary Gavin Williamson criticised employers for misusing levy funds. Williamson’s comments came amid allegations funds were being used to subsidise higher education courses for senior management, and that the scheme had given rise to ‘fake apprenticeships’ designed to tap funding.

Mr. Halfon said that the levy should be ‘used primarily on apprenticeships to 16 to 24-year-olds and to tackle disadvantage.’

With youth unemployment doubling in recent months, according to the ONS, the need to ensure the younger generation are targeted in any government response to reopening the economy has been underscored by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, AELP.

According to Mark Dawe, AELP chief executive, ‘The government needs to roll out its response urgently. The majority of need can be met through existing employment and skills programmes, but it requires the right level of funding and the funding getting to the most appropriate providers around the country.’

‘AELP has called for a £8.6bn skills package split between young people and adults including a wage subsidy to encourage employers to make more apprenticeship opportunities available for young people aged 16 to 24.’

Dawe stressed that failure to implement such measures ‘would still be a significant cost to the Treasury and the economy with mass youth unemployment.’

Speaking to the TES, Mr. Halfon stressed that alongside financial subsidy, there is a need for other forms of support. ‘Businesses are very wary about taking on apprentices because of the bureaucracy involved. The Australian system, for example, does all of that for the businesses and that reduces the bureaucracy. That would be a very good model for consideration. You create financial incentives, but also a bureaucratic incentive.’

Moves to bolster apprenticeships come at a significant moment for the UK logistics industry, with a deepening driver drought and increased pressure on the network due to COVID-19. Apprenticeships have for some time been promoted as a means to alleviate the drought, although this depends on apprenticeship levy funds being used proactively, and for the appropriate purpose.

MD of Moody Logistics, Caroline Moody, recently named as a finalist in the 2020 Amazon everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards, had this to say regarding the apprenticeship levy in 2019: ‘The scheme allows haulage companies to provide an apprentice with much greater insight into the logistics industry as they work within the business whilst being trained in the core driving skills.’

References and useful links:

https://feweek.co.uk/2020/06/30/pm-promises-every-young-person-the-chance-of-an-apprenticeship-or-an-in-work-placement/

https://www.tes.com/news/Covid-19-pm-we-will-support-small-businesses-apprentices

https://www.aelp.org.uk/news/news/news-articles/aelp-responds-to-the-latest-increase-in-unemployment/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-53238362

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-51650984https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1641/documents/15661/default/

https://www.tes.com/news/halfon-schools-should-be-given-apprenticeship-targets

https://www.businessupnorth.co.uk/moody-logistics-calls-for-increase-in-driver-apprenticeships-as-part-of-love-the-lorry-week/

https://bdaily.co.uk/articles/2020/06/25/caroline-moody-named-as-finalist-in-everywoman-transport-logistics-awards