Recognising Your Blue-Collar Workforce

The logistics industry is in a state of flux. Disruptive forces, driven by the evolution of technology and social change, have upset the applecart. Issues with recruitment and retention and an ageing workforce have contributed to labour shortage. And as the recent FTA Logistics Skills Report points out, ‘Not enough young people are considering logistics, especially HGV driving, as a career option,’ with causes including ‘the cost of licence acquisition, lack of understanding of the sector, poor sector image, working hours and lack of quality driver facilities.’ With organisations feeling the crunch, what can be done internally to help?

Now more than ever, it is essential to develop, recognise, reward and retain workers. We need to show just how attractive and future-facing a career in our sector can be. That is especially true in the case of blue-collar positions such as forklift operator and HGV driver, which are suffering both due to obstacles to entry and perceived threat from automation. But in order to do that, we need to understand the needs and goals of those we seek to employ.

Naturally, a competitive wage is a big draw. Offering a pay package that at least keeps pace with competitors is an obvious way to make employees feel valued—or at the very least, stop them feeling underappreciated. But it would be wrong to think pay was the be-all and end-all for contemporary workers. As the FTA report demonstrates, working conditions, facilities, and general quality of life factor into the decisions of people entering the workforce. Opportunities for personal development, rewards or benefits that make life easier, and a sense of community may also be valued very highly by some employees.

From the business point of view, good professional development provides an antidote to skill gaps. Beyond this, it increases competence; skilled workers share good practice with others, so the effects are felt around your organisation, particularly when PD is solidly embedded and not just a luxury. From the employee’s point of view, the benefits of development are even more far-reaching. Employees can expect greater opportunities in future, a new challenge, and a sense of personal growth. What’s more, developing your workers shows you are willing to invest in them for your collective future. That is an important message when traditional roles and skillsets are under threat from technological change.

In an increasingly hectic society, people put a premium on ease, comfort and convenience. The rise of industry shakers such as Amazon, ASOS, Uber and Deliveroo is a testament to this. If it is true of customers, it’s also true of employees. That means benefits can outperform pure remuneration pound-for-pound in terms of perceived value. Gym membership, cycle to work, childcare vouchers, discounted shopping, life insurance, pension. Using the power of your organisation to help make life more manageable for employees is a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ deal. The benefits you elect to offer will affect your employee proposition differently for different demographics. An organisation looking to hire returnee mothers might build its portfolio of benefits in order to specifically target them.

In comparison to PD and benefits, the idea of ‘community’ can be more nebulous. For that reason, some dismiss talk of employee experience as woolly, or ‘touchy-feely’. But can employers afford to overlook the feelings of a mobile workforce that, like customers, can vote with its feet? What is clear is that paying lip service to community without putting solid team initiatives in place is not enough. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and savvy employees can recognise the difference between guff and genuine team culture. And as Philip Martin, of the Department for Transport, has pointed out, ‘PWC have found that 80% of millennials believe a diversity and inclusion policy is important when deciding to work for a company.’ Young people care about an organisation’s inclusivity, and social values.

Real teams recognise the value of contributions from individual members. One way to do that is through employee recognition programmes—personal thank you’s from a leadership invested in each member of the workforce. Perhaps the best way to make your employees feel valued is to value what they have to say. If possible, involve workers or representatives in decision making processes. Run ideas by them, especially top-down initiatives that come from management. Workers on ‘the ground floor’ have an advantage in accumulated frontline experience, and may spot potential pitfalls or ways to optimise procedure. They can also be a useful barometer when something isn’t going as planned.

What all these initiatives have in common is that they put people and relationships first. Your workforce is the most significant factor in success, so it makes sense to recognise their value and invest. In the spirit of this, Talent in Logistics offers its own Forklift Operator and LGV Driver competitions, which celebrate professionalism and ability while encouraging employees to ‘upskill’, and aim for the highest standards in their daily practice. Get in touch today to discuss this, or any of the issues raised in this post, further. We are eager to hear from you.

Event postponement due to coronavirus

In light of the evolving coronavirus situation, we have taken the decision to postpone our upcoming Talent in Logistics Engage Conference, originally due to take place on 21st April. Our Attract Conference has also been rescheduled to a new date and location.

We have also decided to postpone the live competitions for our Forklift Operator of the Year and LGV Driver of the Year awards. 

Talent in Logistics Conferences

Both of the conferences will now take place at Cranfield Management Development Centre in September as follows:

  • Attract Conference – 22nd September
  • Engage Conference – 23rd September

Tickets already purchased for both conferences will still be valid for the new date.

Talent in Logistics Live Competitions

Our 2020 live competitions have been rescheduled as follows:

  • LGV Driver of the Year live competition – between 2nd and 10th September (venues TBA)
  • Forklift Operator of the Year – regional live competitions (South, North, Midlands) between 2nd and 10th September (venues TBA)

Although these live competitions will now take place later than planned, the deadline for entering the awards remains unchanged and there are just 2 weeks left to enter!

Nominations for both the Forklift Operator of the Year and LGV Driver of the Year must be received by 3rd April 2020 – this deadline will not be extended.

Nominate now.

Talent in Logistics Awards

We are currently operating in line with government and NHS guidelines and are continually reviewing the situation with the health, safety and wellbeing of our team, customers and partners in mind.  At present, the Talent in Logistics Awards is due to go ahead as planned on 1st October in Manchester.

Should anything further change regarding our Talent in Logistics event calendar, this will be announced on our website and social media channels.

Protecting people in logistics

Rescheduling the conferences and competitions ensures we have time to deliver safe and secure events, whilst still providing professionals with the right knowledge and tools to succeed when it comes to engaging, attracting and rewarding talent within our sector.

We would like to thank our delegates, customers and partners for their continued support and patience throughout these highly unusual circumstances.

If you have any questions about the changes to our conferences and competitions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Logistics is undeniably one of the most important career paths in the world. Without the planning and execution of the distribution of goods, society as we know it would cease to function.

The complexities of the logistics sector mean there is a huge variety of roles and a wide range of skills that can be transferred to a career in the sector and plenty of opportunity for progression.

For National Careers Week (NCW) – 2nd to 7th March 2020 – we are taking to social media, and sharing some of the fascinating career paths available to help attract new talent into the sector. This week we have teamed up with a variety of logistics operations to share some of the job opportunities available, and how you can get your foot through the door. Plus, we hear from sector professionals who work in road, rail, air and sea as they let us in on their career profiles.

Whether you choose to enter the sector as a school leaver, apprentice, graduate, or looking for a completely new route along your career journey, the logistics sector is rich with opportunities that are complex and demanding, yet well-rewarding.


Chris Coulson, National HSEQ Manager, Howard Tenens Ltd

How long have you worked in logistics?
Since 1987, when I joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps / Royal Logistic Corps (British Army).

What did you want to do when you grew up?  
I always wanted to join the Army and be a soldier.

Tell us a little about your progression?

I left the British Army after 14 years’ service in 2001, as a newly qualified health and safety professional. Having just completed my NEBOSH National General Certificate as part of my resettlement programme, I started working for a small family run business looking after health and safety, but was made redundant after 2 years.  
I then started working for Excel Logistics in a large warehouse in Corby, as the Health, Safety, Site Services and Training Manager, whilst there I became a Fire Extinguisher / Fire Marshall Instructor.  When I left, I started working for G4S Cash Services as 1 of 2 health and safety managers, jointly looking after 64 sites throughout the UK.  Whilst at G4S, I completed my NEBOSH Diploma and NEBOSH Fire Risk and Safety Management qualifications which enabled to further my career and knowledge.  I then went on to work for my current employer – Howard Tenens – as the National HSEQ Manager, responsible for 14 warehouse sites throughout the UK.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your logistics career?

Changing people’s beliefs, attitudes and cultures towards good health and safety management practices and them having a clearer understanding of why it is important.

What do you most love about your career?

No two days are the same, there are different challenges to overcome on a daily basis.  Seeing the expression on someone’s face when they eventually ‘get it’, compared to what they might have thought about health and safety when they woke up that morning.

Why would you encourage others to work in logistics?

The variety of the job, learning new skills and meeting lots of interesting like-minded people.

And finally, what is a fun, random fact about you?

I’m a secret caravaner.

Mitchell West, Operational Key Account Manager – Aerospace, DB Schenker

How long have you worked in logistics?

8 years.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

A pilot.

Tell us a little about your progression?

I began my career as a multimodal apprentice in the Bournemouth branch of DB Schenker, covering air, road and sea freight whilst completing a Level 2 and 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship. After roughly 18 months, I was offered a full-time position in the air import team, working within one of the aerospace key accounts. I remained in the Bournemouth office for about 3 years, covering various other aerospace accounts as well as a few other sectors, cosmetics being one of them. To further my progression, I decided to move to London where there was a much wider base for opportunities across a huge network of freight forwarders. I initially left DB Schenker to work for another forwarder, Nippon Express, but after around 3 months an opportunity to join the DB Schenker head office at Heathrow within their dedicated aerospace team was presented to me. I came back as an Import Operator and quickly got to grips with the work, the team and the department and I was thankfully offered the position of Aerospace Team Leader after just 6 months. A roll that encompassed overseeing imports, exports and a dedicated key account team of 13 (all airfreight). I spent roughly 18 months in this role, faced a lot of challenges but overall this was the position the prepared me for where I am today. I’ve since been promoted to the Operational Key Account Manager, where I act as both the Operations Manager for the whole aerospace team (now 28 people including the previous team and the AOG team) and the Key Account Manager for the team where I meet regularly with customers, ensure service is up to scratch and look to further develop the business and relationships with said customers.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your logistics career?

Transition from Import Operator to Team leader whilst being the youngest member of the team.

What do you most love about your career?

The variety. No two days are the same, I’ve gone from standing in a hanger watching a Leonardo 101 helicopter being loaded into the front of an Antonov Cargo plane, to spending a day scanning documents to customer for customs clearance, to getting a call at 5pm and hoping on the next flight to Hamburg with a box under my arm. And everything in between.

Why would you encourage others to work in logistics?

Excuse the cliché, but possibilities are endless. A company the size of DB Schenker has every function, imports/exports, air freight/sea freight, marketing, sales, forklift drivers, the list goes on. The roles are always challenging, and every day something new can be learnt. Another cliché for you… every day is a school day.

And finally, what is a fun, random fact about you?

On that trip to Hamburg, I arrived at the hotel and they’d over booked. I had to share a room with a stranger from Germany for the night.

Giulio Vecchio, Traffic Router, Europa Road Limited

How long have you worked in logistics?

12 years in total. My first job within the sector was route planning for drivers, making deliveries of Foodstuffs to markets and stores.  Every day was a different challenge which was based on orders received.  At Europa, the challenges have been different. I was introduced to a completely different side of logistics by routing trailers and rigid vehicles for the Northampton office for general groupage cargo. That meant routing today, then looking after those drivers the following day to ensure all work was completed, and on time. Now I route the Artic Fleet at Dartford and look after those drivers also during the day.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I have a great love for animals so, in my younger days back in South Africa, I wanted to be a wildlife conservationist.

Tell us a little about your progression?

I started in the sector with no experience. During my time working in different companies, I have gained a lot of knowledge from various people about the do’s and don’ts.  When I started my career at Europa, it was with the help of a close-knit team that I was able to run the entire Northampton area fleet alone, with both the Class 1 & 2 fleet.  When the company decided on a different direction of the business, I was able to transfer my skillset to working on the Trailer Fleet at Dartford.  Working alongside experienced colleagues, my knowledge is now of a higher level to be able to be left to control not only the daily operation, but to work with dozens of third party hauliers the length and breadth of the country in order to manage volume as well as costs making our operation as professional and cost effective as it can be.  I am always looking for opportunities within my position and hope to gain my Transport Manager CPC in 2020, that I know my colleagues and indeed company will support me in achieving.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your logistics career?

There are a fair few, like road/bridge closures, customers wanting additional collections on arrival meaning a re-route of other drivers to make the day effective, keeping drivers working within the confines of driver hour and working time directive regulations, but snow has always proved to be the most challenging.

What do you most love about your career?

Every day comes with new challenges, not all great but thankfully I work within a team that are always willing to help if called upon.

Why would you encourage others to work in logistics?

Logistics can be a highly satisfying job, but also one that requires discipline and teamwork. It is one of the most important career fields in the world. Without the planning and distribution of resources, there would be food and fuel shortages and goods would cease to be delivered… No internet shopping, eeeek!!!

And finally, what is a fun, random fact about you?

Some people say they would hate to sit at home all day… not me!! As long as Magda and the pets are with me I would be more than happy to stay at home.

Heather Waugh, Train Driver/Locomotive Engineer, Freightliner Group/G&W

How long have you worked in logistics?

Before starting my career as a Train Driver, I started my role in logistics with Royal Mail as an Operational Manager. 10 years later, I moved to Scotrail and started my role as a Train Driver for just over 12 years, before moving to Freightliner and have been here for 1 year.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a sports journalist.

Tell us a little about your progression?

I became the youngest Operational Manager in Royal Mail, aged 20, running a delivery office of 70 postmen. I progressed to Training and Development, and then Planning Manager, before leaving Royal Mail to become a Train Driver with Scotrail in 2006.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your logistics career?

In Royal Mail, I had to deal with a bomb scare at 5am on a freezing cold winter morning. I had to get the staff transported to another delivery office, deal with the emergency services, and then put in place measures to ensure the mail wasn’t delayed!  Safety is always the primary concern, and then ensuring minimal disruption.

As a Train Driver, my biggest and worst challenge was sadly dealing with a fatality.  The incident happened at a train station which meant I had to react quickly to move all passengers on the platform away from the area, and then move the passengers from within my own train away from the station, without anyone becoming distressed.  Despite the incredibly distressing circumstances, you always have to put safety first and ensure you communicate with all the relevant people, i.e. signaller, emergency services, and passengers. 

This is when you really appreciate being part of the amazing ‘railway family’ who go over and above to make sure you are supported at times like that.

What do you most love about your career?

It is a real privilege to be entrusted to drive these amazing trains.  Locomotives with up to 10,000 brake horse power and pulling loads of around 2,000 tonnes.  You are responsible for delivering items safely and on time. You aren’t just protecting the reputation of your own company, but you are fulfilling the promise of your customers to theirs.  You are delivering for hundreds of businesses.  Failing them damages, their reputation which is why I enjoy working for Freightliner as they genuinely go the extra mile to ensure we don’t let our customers down.

And I love the environment within the railway.  Amazing people who look after each other.

Why would you encourage others to work in logistics?

Ultimately, you want to come to work and know you’ve made a difference.  Every day in logistics, you are delivering on promises. The promises that your employer has made, and the promises that your customers have made.  It is rewarding to know you’ve played a part in such a vital industry.  And when things go wrong, for example, weather, mechanical issues, etc. it challenges everyone to come up with solutions. 

And finally, what is a fun, random fact about you?

When I was younger, I played football and took part in a pre-cursor to the Women’s European Cup in Verona, Italy. Incredibly, we won, and when we returned to Scotland with the trophy, we were given a Civic Reception by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and also led the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Cavalcade which was attended by over 100,000 people! A brilliant experience!

Learn more about these fascinating career paths, plus more, by downloading the full Logistics Career Guide for FREE.

NRI launches new LGV assessor qualification

The National Register of Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Instructors (NRI), which is led by the road transport industry and endorsed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), has launched the first nationally recognised LGV assessor qualification, the aim of which is to acknowledge skillsets and provide new professional development opportunities.

The new qualification, which was rolled out in May 2019, enables successful candidates to join the NRI’s LGV Assessor Register for five years. On qualifying, the successful candidates are issued with an LGV Assessor ID card and are added to the online register on the NRI website.

So far, more than 20 people have joined the NRI LGV Assessor register and the NRI is seeing a continually high level of enquiries regarding the new assessor examination. Carlisle-based SP Training trained Dave Stones of Yodel, resulting in Dave becoming one of the first assessors to be examined and to qualify for their NRI assessor card.

On joining the register, assessors have access to free technical advice, exclusive professional development opportunities and discounts on selected products and services from NRI partner organisations. The qualification also enables assessors to prove to employers that they have been independently examined, have achieved the required skill levels and knowledge, and are committed to upholding high quality LGV driver assessment standards.

“It’s important that there is consistency across assessment and marking. Providing standardisation that is transferrable across the industry will improve efficiency,” said Managing Director for SP Training Tony Higgins. “One of SP Training’s key objectives is to help companies meet consistent safety standards so we welcome the assessor qualification and the benefits it will bring to both individual operators and the industry as a whole.”

An LGV assessor is typically responsible for conducting LGV driver assessments and monitoring driver performance. Assessments can be conducted for numerous reasons, such as following an incident, an extended period of leave or evaluating driver skills prior to offering employment. Assessors cannot conduct driver training or examinations and are often former, or current, LGV drivers on route to becoming an LGV Instructor.

“Before now, there was no formal recognition for the important role of LGV assessor,” said Dave Cox. “Although this is something brand new to the industry, it has already received a warm welcome as businesses want to ensure that those responsible for assessing LGV drivers are independently and professionally qualified.”

Employers can find details of NRI registered Instructors and assessors and more information by visiting

eTruck – an innovative approach to learning

The logistics industry is facing an unprecedented change as digitalisation opens up innovative ways to improve workplace experience. From electric trucks and increased cyber security systems to Big data and Artificial Intelligence, new technologies are enabling greater efficiency and, thus, boosted productivity.

Lift truck operator training has traditionally dealt with two main challenges. Firstly, operator training that is not designed with a focus on behavioural change and, secondly, employers that require drivers to attend a full five-day course at significant time and financial expense. To tackle these issues, RTITB introduced eTruck UK in January 2020, a unique digital storytelling tool that aims to increase training effectiveness while reducing training time by as much as two days per course.

RTITB has, over the past 50 years, set industry-leading training standards designed specifically to change behaviours and make measurable improvements to efficiency, risk and safety. In the past, this has included setting training standards for goods vehicle driver licence acquisition training, driver assessment, Driver CPC Periodic Training across a number of sectors including supply chain, freight forwarding and warehousing. As technology develops, so too do the tools available to the sector to ensure that drivers receive the most effective training possible to enable them to react to increasing customer and employer demands.

Telling the right story

“eTruck UK uses digital storytelling to teach operators the reasons behind driver behaviour and why people make bad decisions, alongside the relevant theory,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director for RTITB. “eTruck will make training more interesting and engaging and give drivers the chance to learn at their own pace”. 

eTruck UK is an online system, enabling candidates to complete the theory training on a computer or tablet, in the workplace or at home, before attending practical training and taking their final assessments. For a novice, this can reduce the time taken to complete counterbalance lift truck operator training from five to three days. The innovative training tool, developed by MA Systems in Sweden, provides a new way to cover the theory content for Materials Handling Equipment Operator Training, ensuring that the content is balanced for all candidates by removing any instructor bias towards any topics over others. 

What about employers?

The system is also beneficial for employers as reduced training times help keep downtime and costs to a minimum. Employers training forklift operators are able to save up to two lost days per person per course, with large logistics companies able to claw back thousands of costly training hours every year. eTruck UK also provides reassurances to companies that their operators are safer and better prepared for the workplace. This leaves instructors free to spend less time in the classroom and more time delivering hands-on practical training. Should providers wish, eTruck UK can also be used as part of a five-day course to improve theory learning engagement.

What are the benefits? Through its story-based approach, the system helps employers by delivering core messages in an engaging and accessible way. Research has shown facts delivered via a story are 20 times more likely to be remembered. When presented in this way, candidates learn by following a story that encourages them to think about the effects that their actions and decisions have on others. eTruck tackles decision making under pressure and provides an insight into the wider context of the workplace and where lift truck operations fit in. 

MyRTITB app – a new way of learning

eTruck follows the launch of the MyRTITB TrainingFriend app, which seeks to use digital tools to improve training outcomes. “The development of eTruck is part of RTITB’s mission to inspire a digital, technology-led revolution in lift truck training,” says Laura. The app, which was designed to make training administration and assessment completely paperless for the first time, harnesses current technology to improve both operators testing standards and training compliance.

“These new offerings are not gimmicks – they are robust, future-proof solutions which will be a standard part of all lift truck operator training and testing in future,” says Laura. Operator training has been largely the same for 20 years or more which is why the team at RTITB view it at essential that the sector innovates to improve training effectiveness and boost operator standards and safety.

eTruck UK was made available in January 2020 as part of RTITB Counterbalance Lift Truck Operator training. It is also covered as a core element in all RTITB Lift Truck Instructor training. With eTruck UK, a lifetime license must be purchased for each trainee. This enables operators to return to content when they wish to refresh their knowledge, giving employers, instructors and supervisors opportunities to use eTruck as part of toolbox talks. 

To enable employers to explore the benefits of self-paced learning and digital storytelling further, RTITB is hosting a half-day seminar “Digital learning in training – making it efficient and powerful” on the 27th January at their Head Office in Telford. 

Foster a culture of safety to transform a business

Instilling and expanding health and safety practice within every logistics operator will be crucial to securing business growth.

Over 1.4 million people suffer from work-related injuries and ill-health, costing UK companies £15 billion every year. This is according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). “Behind these statistics are real people whose lives have been affected,” says Ian Taylor, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).   

With consumer demand for fast and dynamic service increasing, the focus is often on growing the logistical capacity of a company eager not to waste the profit opportunities. Yet every company must promote the health and wellbeing of its staff and ensure that they are able to work in a safe environment. Companies that invest in this area will reap a multitude of benefits.

Ensuring safety in expansion

Not so long ago, Staffordshire based company Transcentral was focused exclusively on providing same day delivery services. The team’s experience and dedication meant they had a loyal customer base, which included several well-known brands. To support the company’s continued growth, the decision was taken to start offering warehousing and storage services. This expansion required significant investment, not only to get the right premises but also to develop in-house expertise, including health and safety.

When the expansion plans for Transcentral were first outlined, its now Health and Safety Manager, Chad Bott, was not an official employee. He worked in the construction industry but helped with his family’s business whenever he could. Everyone knew Chad was passionate about health and safety, so it made perfect sense to take this opportunity to divert Chad’s career path and for him to become a key player in Transcentral.

“I asked the health and safety professionals that I knew how I could develop my skills and knowledge,” says Chad. He found NEBOSH the best option available. NEBOSH is a UK-based independent examination board providing vocational qualifications in health, safety and environmental practice. Within 12 months, Chad had passed four NEBOSH certified courses, covering general health and safety, construction, fire and the environment. He used the knowledge gained from his studies to develop a complete health, safety and environmental management system for Transcentral.

NEBOSH courses and qualifications range from three-day introductory courses to full Diploma and Masters level degrees. They can be learnt online or in the classroom depending on a person’s learning style, their work and personal commitments. Learning is delivered by the network of accredited learning partners, of which there are over 600 in more than 130 countries. The most popular qualification is the NEBOSH General Certificate, with over 300,000 people around the world holding one of these certificates.

Transforming every part of the business

According to Chad, Transcentral has since been able to implement risk assessments, method statements, environmental policies and traffic management walkways. He insists that each one has been vital to facilitating business growth. As well as investing in the development of its team, Transcentral ploughed money into a new state-of-the art 45,000 square foot warehouse.

“The transformation of the business has been immense, and it simply wouldn’t have been possible without NEBOSH studies and qualifications,” says Chad. Transcentral now boasts a five-star health and safety rating from an international soft drinks manufacturer. “Without NEBOSH I doubt we would have won that tender,” he adds. “We have benefitted financially and culturally from the changes. Everyone feels valued and our team has become stronger than ever.”

Chad also cites positive impacts he has felt on a more personal level, stating that he now has a clear sense of direction and is fully dedicated to the health and safety profession. Next year, Chad will further his expertise by enrolling on a NEBOSH National Diploma course. “For me, it’s been great. I just generally feel more confident and now have a job I love, which allows me to make a difference.”

He strongly recommends NEBOSH qualifications to others working in small businesses. Reflecting on other small companies looking to expand, as outlined in the sentencing guidelines, the level of ignorance concerning health and safety can be quite concerning. Chad concludes that,“from a health and safety point of view, investing in a NEBOSH qualification is essential for any small business.”

New Talent in Logistics Conference to Tackle Employee Engagement

group of people around table at conference

Talent in Logistics has announced the details of its new Engage Conference, designed to help HR, talent and operational professionals in transport and logistics embrace the challenges of employee engagement.

The Engage Conference, which takes place at Cranfield Management Development Centre in Bedford on Tuesday 21st April 2020, is focused on how to engage with employees to reduce staff turnover and increase productivity, while improving absence and safety incident rates. The agenda is designed to address the key issues affecting engagement in the transport and logistics sector.

“Health and wellbeing, for instance, is a really hot topic and vitally important to many organisations in our sector,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “That is why we have dedicated a session to reducing absenteeism by preventing workplace burnout.” 

“There will also be a seminar on making the business case for investing in people – we know there isn’t always buy in from the top so this will give delegates some practical tools to make real changes when they return to their organisation,” she continues.

Another key session is titled “How engaged are our drivers, and why does it matter?”. This will share the first research findings of the Driver Engagement Survey recently launched by Talent in Logistics in partnership with Pertemps Driving Division. 

To complement this, a later presentation will also provide practical advice about “How to engage your remote workforce to improve productivity” while a panel of experts will discuss examples of successful engagement in logistics workplaces. At the event, delegates can also learn about “Using surveys to measure engagement levels and achieve company success.”

“The only thing you can be sure of in our industry is that it is constantly evolving,” says Ruth. “That’s why we will have a whole seminar dedicated to successfully communicating and implementing change. It can be hard to do this effectively but its crucial for achieving business objectives.”

Attendees will also be invited to share their ideas and expertise by participating in an interactive session looking at “Visualising your organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to keep top talent”.

“This conference is not about listening to HR speakers that know nothing about our sector, hoping that there will be some relevant takeaways,” says Ruth. “It’s about being empowered with the relevant knowledge, ideas and tools to make a real impact on employee engagement in the transport and logistics sector and keep hold of your valuable talent.”

“Improving employee engagement provides a big opportunity for our sector to make an impact on the huge skills shortage we are facing,” she continues. “By attending, we know that HR, talent and operational professionals will feel more confident, prepared and ready to keep their workforce better engaged than ever.”

See the full agenda for the day on the Talent in Logistics website at

All delegates that attend the Talent in Logistics Engage Conference are eligible to claim 4 hours CPD from The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) for attending.

Tickets for the Engage Conference are available now for £125+VAT and can be booked online at

For more information contact or call 01952 520216.

Developing the skills to deliver national infrastructure

Talent in Logistics Journal, in partnership with Public Policy Projects, hosted a roundtable discussion to kick-start the 2020 Delivering Skills for our National Infrastructure policy programme.

The roundtable, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell of Public Policy Projects and Ben Howlett, its Managing Director, brought together senior representatives from the aviation, rail, highways and shipping sectors alongside private sector organisations, government, industry regulators and trade bodies. The programme of work, set out in the meeting, will see stakeholders from across the UK’s infrastructure sector come together to develop actionable insights to address the primary skills challenges facing the industry.

The national context

The government has promised a renewed focus on improving the nation’s skills base alongside its proposed “infrastructure revolution.” National, regional and local government is critical to securing the right skills, in the right area and for the right projects. In practice, this requires firstly identifying where the starkest skills shortages are and how recruitment, training and development can be improved to best meet these needs.

The infrastructure revolution includes HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, a Manchester to Leeds railway line, a Midlands Rail Hub and £29 billion for highways. In addition, the Government has also announced a £3 billion National Skills Fund to develop the right talent to meet the ambitious infrastructure targets it has set.

To improve national productivity, infrastructure must be improved. In reflection of this statement, Stephen Dorrell challenged attendees to establish how the UK can develop the skills required to deliver on the proposed infrastructure projects and, secondly, to assess what needs to be done to ensure the skills are in place to operate the infrastructure once it is developed.

Against this policy backdrop, the roundtable sought to establish the scale of the skills gap in the UK and what public and private sector bodies are currently doing to build and sustain workforces with the right skills. Of the key themes which emerged, an area where both public and private sector organisations found agreement that major improvements are required is in relation to the Apprenticeship Levy.

Reforming the Apprenticeship Levy

Opening the debate by reviewing the current issues with the Levy, John Cope, Deputy Director for Education at Public First, called on the group to debate the ‘real cost of training’. This is of crucial importance as training that is not cost-effective will cease to be offered by colleges. However, more fundamental frameworks surrounding decision making for how the Levy fund is spent needs to be established.

There are many calling for apprenticeships to be redefined in order to encourage uptake.  However, in the absence of a consensus around how this should happen, it is likely to create more confusion than it resolves.  For every industry stakeholder questioning whether degree apprenticeships are being misused and therefore should be excluded, for example, another views these as essential. However, the real challenge to redefine apprenticeships is far more fundamental. It stems from the lack of companies making effective use of the Levy, with many not using it at all.

One organisation that does make use of the full amount of their Levy is Network Rail. Richard Turner, Head of Apprenticeship Delivery at Network Rail, reported that they employ 800 apprentices every year across 40 different schemes. Affirming the vast contribution, they already make in areas including infrastructure maintenance and rail operations, explained Richard.

While Network Rail exists as a great example of an organisation making the Apprenticeship Levy work, not all large companies do. In the infrastructure sector, this could potentially be addressed by large scale operators such as Crossrail, Transport for London and HS2 putting a requirement for apprentices in the procurement contracts they offer out. Requirements for this could be established by the Strategic Apprenticeship Taskforce, which includes Department for Transport, HS2, Heathrow and Network Rail, to champion apprenticeships in the sector.

While there are examples of apprenticeships being used as effectively as a pathway into infrastructure careers, it is difficult for companies operating on a smaller scale to the likes of Network Rail to muster the resources required to employ even one apprentice. Mat Baine, Managing Director of Collaborative Project Management Services, a rail industry SME employing 45 people and one apprentice, raised his concerns with the time, and administrative and support costs of employing an apprentice.

For SMEs which often operate to tight margins and pressurised workforces, issues such as sourcing a training provider, ensuring they can offer the right workplace support to apprentices and even assessing whether the work they require is appropriate for an apprentice can arise. Currently, there is no collective group which provides SMEs with information and support in this area, which limits the extent to which they can offer apprenticeships. Should a group be formed, it could allow for collective pooling of information and resources allowing SMEs to increase their apprenticeship capacity without suffering a loss of productivity from other members of the team.

This is likely to be a barrier in the logistics sector where 85 per cent of businesses are SMEs, as Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, pointed out. Of these SMEs, many are working to a one or two per cent margin, highlighting just how stretched resources are and, thus, the barrier to hiring apprentices. Of course, this sector is not unique in this regard. For many businesses, they simply cannot afford to train people, Richard concluded.

Apprenticeships have massive value beyond the development they provide to individuals and the economic benefit they bring to businesses. As Karen Wallbridge, the Skills and Employment Lead for Diversity, Inclusion and Talent HR at Transport for London (TfL) pointed out, use of the Levy to encourage apprenticeships can unlock new opportunities to boost social mobility and encourage diversity. For TfL, she reflected, this is the ‘right’ solution for them and is about more than just spending the Levy.

To deliver tangible change within the Levy, the Government must focus on putting the support in place to allow apprenticeships to actually happen as opposed to fixating on fundamentally rethinking what apprenticeships ‘should be’.

Developing a programme for change

Bringing it back to the mission at the heart of the programme of work, delivering change that improves the lives of citizens, Mike Hayward, Partner and Head of Road Transport, Crime and Regulatory at Woodfines Solicitors, called for the programme of work to ensure it consults with those working on the frontline of infrastructure service delivery, as well as training providers, education organisations and industry.

Over the course of 2020 and beyond, Talent in Logistics Journal and Public Policy Projects will expand upon the themes discussed at the inaugural roundtable, forming subject specific working groups to develop actionable insights which will be compiled into an annual white paper.  

Lift off for gender diversity

The aviation sector severely lacks gender diversity across many roles. However, collective commitments from industry to address this are taking flight.

“We cannot be here in a year’s time with nothing fundamentally changed.” This was the challenge presented by Christopher Luxon, the former Chief Executive of Air New Zealand, at the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Awards at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Annual General Meeting in June 2019. From manufacturing uncertainties such as those surrounding the Boeing 737 Max to sustainability pressures from governments and environmentally minded consumers, the aviation sector faces a plethora of challenges. Global air freight markets look to be slowing. Data from October 2019 shows demand is down by 3.5 per cent on the previous year and could decrease further as other sectors stall amidst global economic cooling. Further to this, aviation must overcome a range of internal challenges, including the lack of diversity in its workforce.

According to the IATA, only five per cent of pilots and three per cent of CEOs in the aviation industry are women. This lack of gender diversity at the top, and throughout the sector, is the motivation behind the launch of the 25by2025 campaign. “We started to assess what the IATA could practically do to bring the industry together to drive improved diversity, particularly in the most underrepresented areas such as senior leaders, pilots and maintenance,” said IATA Director of Learning and Development Jane Hoskisson.

Committing to the cause

The 25by2025 campaign’s commitment from members requires them to increase the number of women in senior positions by 25 per cent against current metrics or to a minimum of 25 per cent; increase the number of women in underrepresented areas (pilots, engineers and maintenance) by 25 per cent against current metrics or to a minimum of 25 per cent, and to report annually on key diversity metrics. “The industry itself does not represent the diverse world we live in today,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

The campaign has now received the commitment of 59 airlines, representing 30 per cent of all passenger traffic globally, that will seek to reach these goals by the year 2025. The majority of the signatories are from Europe with others from Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Africa and the Middle East also making commitments. “Airlines understand the value that a diverse and gender-balanced workforce delivers,” said Mr de Juniac. However, this is not reflected within the industry’s current workforce balance.

43 of the signatories have gone through the due diligence process and the other 16 are in the process of doing so, confirmed Ms Hoskisson. “In many cases, the airlines are leveraging initiatives that are already in place to redress the gender balance,” she added. This momentum gives confidence to the number of employers hoping to make the diversity transformation in a short space of time. However, there are still barriers to overcome.

Educators and employers alike must do more to encourage women to enrol in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, which are broadly male dominated. “There are also some enduring perceptions regarding the roles that men and women do within the industry,” said Jane Hoskisson. “We often still hear that men are in the cockpit and women in the cabin.” In order to combat this thinking, employers need to do more to promote female role models in these careers and ensure there is the right support in place. “Finally, when we do have women in the industry, we have to ensure we are offering them longer-term opportunities for growth,” she added.

Room for improvement

Engagement can be boosted in the sector in three core areas: firstly, through early education where more must be done to introduce aviation to girls through schooling; secondly, at the point of entry to the workplace, by ensuring that aviation jobs are presented in an attractive way to women in much the same way they are to men; and thirdly, by ensuring that the aviation sector as a whole offers a range of options for women wishing to pursue their careers without having to leave the industry. “Every airline has a role to play in each of those career transitions and, at the IATA, we want to ensure we work collectively to build a broader talent base for the industry,” added Ms Hoskisson. It is for the industry to ensure that shared learning and best practice are spread and these practices are adopted as the new norm. 

In addition to commitments made by the industry, the IATA has also promised to increase the representation of women in senior management positions to 25 per cent (from 19 per cent currently), increase the proportion of women appointed to governance roles and high-level panels and create a forum for sharing best practice across the industry. While encouraging women to enter and stay in the sector is the most important challenge to be overcome, addressing the gender balance in reverse is also important. Iceland Air, for example, has set a target to encourage more men to take up cabin crew roles.

The next phase of the campaign will focus on collecting data on the key areas that will be shared at the IATA’s upcoming AGM in June 2020. “Our work will not be done by 2025, in fact, this is only the beginning. Our ultimate aim is, of course, for a 50-50 gender split with equal opportunities for everyone in every part of our industry,” said an ambitious Mr de Juniac. Time will tell if this campaign has the momentum to take flight.

We love logistics and launched a journal to showcase just how much

Following the publication of the second issue of Talent in Logistics Journal, Mandie McKay and Dan Male, the team behind it speak about their journey in logistics. 

My first job (Dan) was as a delivery driver for a furniture shop. Back in the days of running delivery schedules on scraps of paper without a sat nav, we would reverse pack the van, manage the ever-changing timings of local residents in Daventry and routinely have to reorder the whole day when the sales manager called with an urgent request. However, this taught me many fundamental lessons about logistics which have not changed despite the vast advancement in technology now available.

My first role (Mandie) within the logistics industry was when I worked for a well-known online shopping company. I was a temp and my job was to ring customers and let them know when they could expect their white goods delivery. Customers changed their delivery slots all of the time and I didn’t think this was a big issue until one day I was invited to visit the depot to spend some time with the route planner. All of the routes were created manually at the time which was quite some feat. This experience made me realise the impact of changing one delivery timeslot and how much work it creates for other teams down the supply chain. From that day on I did everything I could to make sure we didn’t have to change any delivery slots unless it was absolutely necessary. I really loved that job and have taken many of the learnings with me. Even now as a customer I do everything I can to make sure someone is home when items are scheduled for delivery.              

We started Talent in Logistics Journal with a simple aim; to celebrate people working in the logistics sector. This involves spotlighting examples of best practice, sharing the journeys of those building careers in the sector and highlighting what needs to change to those making the decisions. 

Mandie is our lead Account Executive and Dan is the Journal Editor. Together, we gather all the pieces necessary to bring this B2B publication to life. 

We do this by bringing together expert thought leadership from industry professionals, training providers, freight operators, public sector regulators, government and everyone in-between. Through conversations with apprentices working their way into a lifelong career in logistics and those who have been here a little while longer, we have heard countless stories about day to day life in the industry. And published many of them. 

It has been a massive learning curve but one that has reaffirmed our mission every step of the way. 

This is a sector facing an image issue. Poor public perception of those working in logistics creates recruitment and diversity problems of its own. Growing issues concerning mental health and wellbeing must be addressed. Pressures to be greener and ever-tightening margins are forcing operators to find new ways of unlocking productivity and efficiency gains. These are the debates we make happen to ensure that all corners of the sector have the opportunity to shape policy in the future. This we will continue to do. Why? Because we love logistics. 

This is an under-recognised sector, it deserves praise for the crucial contribution it makes to the economy and value it adds to our lives. Those working in logistics are the innovators and pioneers fulfilling consumer demands. They are the fuel allowing businesses of all shapes and sizes to keep moving forward. Logistics allows the economy to tick on, giving people an improved quality of life.

We publish the journals to align with three key events in the year: the Attract, Develop and Engage conferences run by our partners at Talent in Logistics. By aligning events with publications, we are seeking to ensure that the key conversations had at workshops and seminars are not lost on the way home. We want to give attendees something to take away, read on the train or share around the office. 

We are now taking this discussion a step further. With our partners, Public Policy Projects, we have now launched a policy roundtable series that is bringing together senior stakeholders from public, private and third sector. Our first such roundtable focused on national infrastructure skills and the challenge of making the Apprenticeship Levy work. The recommendations from this will be taken forward in working groups and consolidated into a white paper and presented to government. 

Aside from high-level discussions, we must ensure that the voices of frontline logistics workers remain prominent throughout our work. Therefore, the Journal will continue to seek out crucial first-hand experiences from those working in the industry.

In other words, and as the name suggests, Talent in Logistics Journal is here to highlight in a vibrant sector, at every level of seniority.

As long as people are working in logistics, we will continue to share actionable insights about the incredible work being done in the sector. With that said, it is time to get back to Issue three! 

If you would like to feature in Talent in Logistics Journal, please get in touch with Mandie at

Fleet Source: Innovation in training

New technology is revolutionising learning in every sector. Transport and logistics are no exception.

Innovative is commercial driver training provider Fleet Source is developing a transformative approach to driver training that uses virtual reality (VR). “VR represents a huge opportunity for a radical change in driver training, which is both cost effective and truly engaging and we intend to ensure that fleet operators are able to fully embrace that opportunity,” says Fleet Source Chief Executive Nick Caesari. With the sector in demand of well-trained, qualified drivers to meet the needs of the wider economy, overcoming training barriers is a crucial step in ensuring the workforce can react to meet these needs. 

The hands-on experience

Thankfully, technology offers an answer to these workforce issues. “By using 360-degree, fully immersive real-life crisis scenarios, we are ensuring our drivers have the best advice, skills and support systems at front of mind, should they have to face those challenges,” says Nick. “VR facilitates learning in a quicker, more retentive and accessible way, with the ability to provide courses wherever fleet operators need them”.

VR uses computer technology to create a simulated environment where users are fully immersed and able to interact with their surroundings in real-time. Researches have shown that people learn better in immersive virtual environments compared to traditional platforms. However, due to the novelty of these innovations, they are relatively untested in the commercial space.  

Drivers have welcomed the scheme thus far. One customer even reported that 97 per cent of their drivers thought it was a positive experience. “We have had tremendous feedback from fleet professionals for the VR packages we have produced within our training portfolio,” said Mr Caesari. However, VR is not without its’ limitations. For some individuals, VR can cause motion sickness, limiting the effectiveness of the technology. It can also be expensive to develop and can only be used on small groups at a time. Nonetheless, those who have trailed the course appear to be receiving the benefits.

One of the main advantages of learning with VR is that drivers actively engage in the learning process instead of reading about it or being told what to do. The International Data Corporation predicted that global expenditure on augmented reality and VR training will reach $8.5 billion by 2023. With this expected growth, the logistics sector can expect to benefit alongside others from the opportunities it presents for training staff. 

A strong track record

Fleet Source training courses have a history of achievements in the past. In 2018, Fleet Source’s Terrorism Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) course was awarded Training Programme of the Year at Talent in Logistics Awards. Regarding the award-winning course, Mr Caesari said: “TRIP has been designed so that commercial fleet operators, managers and drivers can be educated on the risks of terrorism; the nature of the threats that they may face and a range of safety precautions they should implement to significantly reduce the possibilities of their vehicle being hijacked or stolen and used in a terrorist incident”.

Fleet Source’s core mission to improve road safety and save lives was recognised again last year when Transport for London (TfL) appointed Fleet Source as one of two contractors to deliver its funded driver training programmes. The partnership with TfL, which started in 2014, aims to deliver on the objectives of the Mayor of London’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan.

In addition to its’ work with TfL, Fleet Source offers a wide range of courses including Safe UK Driving, Van Smart, Work Related Road Risk CPC and Safe urban Driving in over 80 different locations across the United Kingdom. Its innovative approach gives drivers a first-person experience while enabling instructors to test drivers’ theorical knowledge, response and reaction times. Looking ahead, Fleet Source aims to expand its VR offer onto other courses, allowing drivers to develop essential skills in a virtual world. If applied correctly, this has the potential to improve safety and practice back in the real world. As the technology improves, the opportunities for its application can only get better.

I Love Logistics: Investing in the future of our workforces

It is crucial that we, as a sector, are working collaboratively to invest in the future of the workforce, writes Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director at Talent in Logistics.

2020 marks the launch of a new campaign designed to encourage new talent into existing and future roles within logistics. The new campaign is calling on professionals from the logistics sector to showcase their pride and commitment to attracting talent, developing people and keeping employees engaged within the sector.

In order to close the current skills gap, logistics organisations can no longer rest on their laurels and must be proactive in attracting and retaining talented individuals. For example, the UK currently faces an HGV driver shortage of 59,000 people. With the average age of HGV drivers being 48, the need to encourage more younger people to join the logistics workforce is clear.

The I LOVE LOGISTICS campaign is designed specifically for social media and looks to target young people in a positive and accessible way. There is a need to readdress the negative image of the sector, starting by highlighting those who are currently building careers in the industry.

With 63 per cent of UK organisations currently experiencing a skills shortage according to the FTA, it is crucial that logistics professionals share their experiences and encourage others to follow in a similar path. The campaign is open to all roles within the supply chain, whether they be in road, rail, air or sea, and welcomes the contributions of everyone.

Getting involved in the campaign is really simple. All people need to do is take a selfie and submit it to the Talent in Logistics team with a short summary about why they love logistics. We have also set up the social media tag #ILoveLogistics♥️ to spotlight all profiles and encourage others to share their own experiences. In addition, we have designed the I LOVE LOGISTICS♥️ badge to help promote the message.

Profile: Jo Mawditt, UK Operational Training Manager, Kuehne + Nagel 

Tell us about your progression.

I started work as an office junior, earning £4,500 per year, for an animal feed manufacturer. I got the logistics bug while doing holiday cover for the transport manager. I did my Management Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) at the age of 19 and worked in the parcels sector before moving to work as a transport manager for Pentex Oil, a land-based oil drilling company. At this point, I took my LGV C+E (Class 1) licence.

For a five-foot-two female I looked particularly fetching in overalls, steel toe capped rigger boots and a hard hat. It was a real grounding in a tough environment but the nine years I worked there taught me a lot about fleet management. It was always going to be hard to leave Pentex but the role of fleet manager came up at William Youngers, part of the Scottish and Newcastle brewery empire and I was lucky enough to get the job.

26 years later and I look back on a fantastic career. I was the youngest female transport manager ever at Scottish and Newcastle, taking charge of the biggest contract logistics customer-serving site when I was based in Elland, West Yorkshire. Alongside this, I managed distribution sites in Newark and Norwich. The transfer of the logistics division from Scottish and Newcastle to Kuehne + Nagel presented further opportunities and I worked on numerous projects securing new business. Finally, I took up the role of operational training manager for Kuehne + Nagel.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your logistics career? 

It would be easy to say being a woman in a man’s world, but that hasn’t really been the case. I think the biggest challenge has been to encourage my logistics colleagues to think further ahead than today and tomorrow. In the logistics sector we are programmed to look just at the here and now, and to be reactive rather than proactive. We don’t focus enough on planning ahead to foresee the challenges and opportunities of the future.

What do you most love about logistics?

It sounds a bit twee but the best bit about my job is the people I work with. It has its challenges at times but there is nothing better than seeing colleagues empowered to deliver quality training to their peers, managers seeing the benefits of a team working collectively towards the same aim and colleagues wanting to do a good job safely before going home to their families.

Why would you encourage others to work in logistics? 

Logistics is naturally fast-paced. I love the variety of businesses that we partner with, one minute we are moving and storing jet engines, the next it’s coffee beans and televisions. Where else would you get such a variety of opportunities along with each customer?