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 –

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

For more information on BITA and the work in conducts, visit

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


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
  • Innovation in Recruitment; BUSINESS ON THE MOVE
  • Innovative Training Programme; RTITB & MA-SYSTEM
  • Training Provider of the Year; FLEET SOURCE
  • Training Team of the Year; ABBEY LOGISTICS GROUP
  • Health, Safety and Wellbeing; CLIPPER LOGISTICS
  • LGV Driver of the Year (CAT C); RYAN HUNT, BIDFOOD

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.


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.


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?


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:

“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:

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

Best Place to Work

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

Collaboration in People Development

• 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 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.’


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: 

To watch the live Forklift Operator of the Year virtual finals, visit

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.