How to combat a skills shortage

Addressing the increasingly complicated challenge of recruitment will require innovative thinking from logistics operators.

With 43,000 vacancies in the first quarter of 2019 alone, the existence of a nationwide skills shortage for the logistics sector is now undeniable. Demand for services is going only in one direction and the sector has so far not been able to increase rates of recruitment to mitigate the problem. It is not simply a numbers problem. Technology and automation are changing the very nature of the sector, which is further complicating the skills shortage. Needless to say, logistics operators will have to harness the skills of a new generation more accustomed to this digital age of automation.

Considering the ever more complicated and increasing demand upon services relative to other professions, logistics operators need to start thinking radically in order to truly address this skills shortage. Failure to encourage fresh talent to join the logistics sector is a major part of the problem. An ageing workforce of drivers could put the longevity of the transport industry under threat. Research from the workers’ union, Unite, shows that just one per cent of HGV drivers in the UK are aged under 25, while the average age of drivers was recorded at 48 in 2016, up from 45.3 in 2001, with 13 per cent aged over 60.

Increasing exposure of the sector

“The logistics sector was never highlighted to me as a career option when I was younger and it is the same for most of the people I currently work with,” says Abby Langley, Marketing Manager at Pall-Ex. Abby insists that, while other sectors have gained in popularity, “the logistics sector has yet to promote itself effectively across higher education.” Pall-Ex is trying to address students’ lack of exposure to logistics.

Pall-Ex is an award-winning network of haulers formed in 1996 that currently transports more than 30,000 pallets across the globe every day. While Pall-Ex is firmly established within the sector, the company has met similar challenges to other parts of the logistics sector in recruiting fresh talent.

In looking to address this, Pall-Ex has partnered with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to try to foster enthusiasm for logistics amongst talented students. The palletised freight network has tasked second year marketing students with developing creative ideas to promote careers in the logistics sector to young people aged 16 to 24.

“It’s fantastic that one of Leicestershire’s largest companies wants to work with our students on this important marketing campaign,” says Rachael Mabe, Head of the Advertising and Promotion module at DMU. Rachael says that the university is firmly committed to the principles of the project as they will provide students with the opportunity to gain first-hand practical experience, which will enable them to develop the skills and qualities required in the workplace.

Pall-Ex has provided a live brief for an integrated marketing campaign, using market research, social media, influencer marketing and PR. Campaigns will promote HGV driving roles and other careers, encouraging applicants from under-represented groups, such as women, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Students are set to present their strategies to the company in March 2020.

Attracting the next generation

“Attracting the younger generation has become more challenging as they are unaware of the scope of jobs available and the opportunities for progression,” says Kevin Buchanan, Group CEO at Pall-Ex. Kevin sees this initiative as a massive learning opportunity, both for the students involved and for the company as a whole. It allows Pall-Ex to develop a fresh perspective from young people themselves and to better understand how to inform them of the increasing opportunities within the sector.

The importance of logistics to the wider UK economy should never be understated as it underpins critical infrastructure. Currently the sector is responsible for moving 1.41 billion tonnes of goods a year, according to figures from the Department for Transport. If the recruitment issues are not comprehensively addressed over the coming years, other sectors that currently rely upon effective logistics frameworks will begin to feel the effects. With industry experts warning of further skills losses as a result of Brexit, this point will become even more pertinent.

“We want logistics to be a talking point in schools,” says Kevin, reflecting on how important it is to secure the longevity for the sector. “We need to educate young people on the positives of not only driving, but other roles in the industry and the important role logistics plays in all of our lives.”

Maintaining the current crop supply chain professionals

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1995, are forecast to make up

Recruitment requires augmenting the perception of logistics, moving away from the ubiquitous “trucks and sheds” approach, towards seeing logistics as a profession of choice. Focusing discussion merely on entry level roles contributes to stakeholders, such as parents, carers and teachers, developing a low understanding of the entire sector. Meanwhile, focus on products and services grows while other exciting trends affecting the profession are largely overlooked. Logistics is a fast-paced, technologically driven and well-paid global sector, yet popular media and logisticians themselves rarely sell a career in logistics as such. How can professionals and stakeholders encourage the next generation to join and stay in the sector?

I hate to query the basis of this article but … by 2025 the oldest millennials by this definition will be 44 and are 39 now. That’s hardly the ‘next generation’. Gen Z is the next one, now joining the workforce as grads and apprentices.

Inspiring the next generation

Organisations like NOVUS and Career Ready work to inspire young people to join the logistics sector. NOVUS works across eight universities, with students studying business, logistics and supply chain degrees to provide applied, industry-relevant education. The opportunities on offer through over 20 sponsoring companies include guest lectures, site visits, mentoring and employment opportunities. The aim is to instil a love of logistics in the students and to provide the sponsors with the very best graduate crop, who are guaranteed as “work ready”.

In order to promote the profession in schools and colleges, NOVUS and Career Ready, collaborating under the Think Logistics banner, have showcased their students and alumni in a series of films, where the students talk about why they chose a career in logistics. The most compelling reasons to join the profession are cited as working with a range of people, the growth prospects on offer, the possibilities for travel, development of transferable skills and overall global opportunities.

It was hoped that the introduction of T Levels, two programmes primarily aimed at 16-18-year olds, would ensure such resources were widely used by teachers. Presently, transport and logistics does not have a T Level, despite the sector currently employing around 2.7 million people. As such, alongside Career Ready’s work with its national network of schools and colleges, NOVUS is encouraging its over 200 current students and alumni, 40 per cent of whom are female, to collaborate with their former schools and colleges to encourage young people to follow in their footsteps.

Once the next generation has been recruited into the profession, what can companies do to make sure their working environment remains challenging and enjoyable to this demographic?

Paying consideration to how the upbringing of a millennial differs from that of previous generations can help. Just as group projects were the norm at school, millennials expect collaborative working environments. Building meaningful relationships regardless of hierarchy, such as in the form of cross-generation project teams, should feature overtly in company culture.

Social media, a mainstay of the generation, has given millennials a platform on which to share views instantaneously. As such, they expect to have their views heard. Social media is also inherently transparent, so millennials desire the same level of transparency in the workplace. With regards to technology, the sheer number of tech-based resources available to a millennial has made them efficient problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Companies should not slow millennials down with outdated technology that is no longer fit for purpose.

New approaches on sector-wide level

Career development for millennials is more than a training programme. A company’s culture must praise continuous learning and provide practical, hands-on projects that allow challenges to be overcome. As a result of this investment, it is imperative that companies do not create intellectual waste by not fully challenging their millennial workforce.  Millennials will more readily disrupt themselves by moving jobs to get the leadership and development that they crave.

Similarly, companies should consider performance in terms of output, not time spent on a project, to maximise millennial satisfaction. Meaningful responsibilities and regular feedback on performance needs to be in place. Additionally, advice on how to add value to the business, alongside advice on achieving career milestones, would also be welcome.

Encouraging recruitment and securing retention calls for new thinking, new approaches and collaboration on a sector-wide scale. Long-term effort from companies, membership bodies and the education sector is required to change perceptions. The profession needs to do more than promote the “coolness” of today’s technologies, although there is no doubt drones and driverless trucks do sell. Communicating the educational requirements for succeeding in supply chain careers and the opportunities thereafter is key to unlocking and sustaining interest, creating the managers of the future.

RAPID: Choosing a different path

Europa’s RAPID scheme offers a high-value alternative to university for many school leavers.

What happens if I don’t go to uni? This is a question pondered by many 17-year-olds as they near the end of their mandated years in education. In 2019, UCAS revealed that a record 236,350 school leavers applied to go to university. This is a sizeable figure, but one that still only accounts for 40 per cent of the total leaving school or college. Many young people are instead looking for opportunities to continue to develop their skills while in the world of work. 

Following a successful pilot in 2018, Europa Worldwide Group, a freight forwarder employing 900 people across 16 sites in the UK, launched its ambitious and innovative plan in early 2019 called RAPID Career Development Programme. The programme, designed for 18 to 21-year-olds as a fast-track route into management, offers an opportunity for school leavers who have decided university is not the route for them.

The programme is the brainchild of Europa’s Managing Director, Andrew Baxter, who started work straight from school and who is a passionate advocate of learning on the job.  The four-year RAPID programme is the first of its kind and offers enthusiastic school leavers a career in logistics. The overriding goal of the programme is to appeal to highly ambitious and focused individuals who are keen to learn in the workplace while starting to progress in their career.

“Although I started working straight from school, today I’m directing an international business, employing over 900 staff,” says Andrew. The programme was launched “to find the young people out there who have the same drive and passion as me and my senior team and to embed them within our business from a young age,” he added.

Universal challenges

A recent report by Talent in Logistics has revealed significant recruitment issues in the sector. According to the report, only eight per cent of young people consider the sector as attractive and 40 per cent don’t even know what logistics is. Programmes like RAPID are essential if the sector is going to recruit young adults to fill the high number of vacancies in the sector. Currently, only nine per cent of the workforce is under 25 years of age and 45 per cent is over 45.

Competition is not just steep within the logistics sector but it is so across all sectors of the global economy. Logistics operators must look beyond their immediate economic competitors for talent. They must look towards the competition, which includes companies in manufacturing, IT, retail and public services. Employers in these sectors also need skilled and driven young people to join their workforce.

Young people are demanding more from employers, especially when joining the workplace directly from school. Development and training are a priority for many entering the workforce and it is equally crucial for the sector in retaining talent in the industry. Although it is not always financially practical for smaller companies, those that can provide formal training programmes for new employees find there is tremendous value in doing so. 

Learning on the job

The first successful candidate to secure a job through the programme was 18-year-old Max Holbrook in August 2018. “I knew that university wasn’t the best option for me. I worked in retail while I was at school and wanted to get into a career straightaway rather than continue in education,” said Max. “I find it’s much better to learn hands-on especially with an experienced company in an ever-growing industry,” he added.

Through the RAPID programme, young people like Max will progress from junior/trainee team members to experienced account managers earning upwards of £30,000 per year. “This sort of opportunity for school leavers is rare, if not unheard of in my experience, and we’re thrilled to be leading the way in piloting such an exciting and dynamic initiative,” said Dionne Redpath, Branch and Sales Director at Europa.

Attracting the right candidates

Recruiting the right talent is one of the biggest challenges facing logistics operators and one which very few get right. Ahead of launching the scheme, Dionne Redpath, alongside Group Recruitment and Talent Manager, Vanita Dass-Puri, conducted a search for the country’s brightest and most passionate students interested in a career in logistics. This began in spring 2019 and included visits to over 40 schools and events around the country, meeting over 700 interested students. “We want to make sure that young people understand the logistics sector,” commented Laura Watkin, Head of Talent at Europa. A key element of the scheme is ensuring that candidates understand the opportunities that exist in logistics and take a long-term career view of their decision to join RAPID.

Following the successful induction of the 2019 cohort, Europa is promoting the programme to schools and sixth form colleges across the country for 2020. “We are sharing Lana’s expertise with careers leaders to ensure we support them with relevant information about the sector,” said Laura.

The outreach work even includes “RAPIDs” themselves talking to, and working with, prospective students to make sure they are informed and equipped to take advantage of the options open to them. “We’re delighted with interest levels to date and are already receiving applications,” said Laura, “we’ve even had applicants hoping to secure a place for September 2021.”

Overspent and lacking purpose. What to do with the Apprenticeship Levy?

2020 needs to be the year where we decide the future of the Apprenticeship Levy. What does the Government need to do to revive this crucial training pathway?

As Head of Education at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), my time was dominated by trying to make the Apprenticeship Levy work, writes John Cope, now Deputy Director at Public First. My work in this field led me to one conclusion: we need to hit pause and have a proper debate about what the Levy is trying to achieve.

I am certainly not saying the Levy has been a failure. Rewind to when it was launched and its purpose was clear: plug a hole in the Department for Education’s budget and keep the foot down to continue the amazing growth in apprenticeships since 2010. The aims were solid and necessary to ensure technical education and apprenticeships continue to be a great start to a career. Importantly, the Levy has rightly held employers’ feet to the fire, forcing them to invest much more in training and to debate their recruitment strategies. Based on these measures, it’s been a success.

However, two years on from its introduction, apprenticeship starts are becoming increasingly subdued and young people are losing out the most. The Levy has counterintuitively become overspent (yes … really) meaning funds are now being rationed for smaller firms, and questions are being asked about whether it really ought to be used for middle and senior managers to benefit from degree level apprenticeships. About a quarter of employers write the Levy off as a tax, according to CBI data, with many others grumbling, with some justification, about bureaucracy and lack of apprenticeship providers. So, how do we square this circle? The Levy is bureaucratic and expensive and isn’t delivering the number of apprentices it set out to achieve. One thing is for sure, 2020 needs to be the year we decide the future of the Levy.

“The Levy is bureaucratic and expensive and isn’t delivering the number of apprentices it set out to achieve” – John Cope, Deputy Director, Public First

Finding a way forward

If I were Chancellor of the Exchequer, what would I announce in the March Budget? This is the question I’m mulling over at Public First, the education consultancy I’ve recently joined. Levy reform is heavy on the minds of many of our clients and is clearly a policy area in need of attention.

Start with transparency

Firstly, I would come clean about what’s going on with the Levy. I would explain how it’s possible for employers to read in the news that the Levy is overspent, but then to look at their Levy account and see unspent funds. I would see my moment at the despatch box as a chance to do what should have been done from the start. That is, explain how the levy system works, what is being funded, how contributions are being spent and what the huge growth in degree apprenticeship means. I would even highlight how big businesses, that pay the Levy, inadvertently subsidise smaller businesses when they hire apprentices, without even realising what the money is being spent on. This would mean confirming, from the despatch box, that a reasonable forecast of the Levy has it running out of cash within approximately two years. Change is, therefore, inevitable.

Beef-up the Institute for Apprenticeships

Secondly, I would task the Institute for Apprenticeships with making the apprenticeship system more user-friendly, whether that involves helping smaller businesses or slashing bureaucracy. This would require the Institute having the budget to engage properly with employers and apprentices across the country to understand their concerns. For this to be successful, in-depth data analysis, impact modelling, focus groups and behavioural insights would all be required.

I would also give the Institute much more power and independence. For example, they should have a role in setting the apprentice minimum wage and be able to offer flexibility on the 20-per-cent-off-the-job rule if it’s in the best interest of the apprentice. The Institute also needs to be able to bring proper coherence to technical education, assessing how many apprenticeship standards constitutes enough, whether T Levels (two-year courses equivalent to three A Levels) will make lower level apprenticeships a thing of the past, how T Levels and apprenticeships will interact, and where “traineeships” fit into all of this.

Plugging the financial gap

Thirdly, I would introduce an immediate cash top-up to the Levy so employers can continue using the scheme in the short to medium term to take on apprentices of all ages and skill levels. Without this, the impending overspend will undermine confidence in the apprenticeships’ brand with the potential, if it continues, to make employers rethink their programmes entirely.

“I would introduce an immediate cash top-up to the Levy so employers can continue using the scheme in the short to medium term” – John Cope, Deputy Director, Public First

Agree the future of the Levy

Finally, with a greater transparency around the overspend, a beefed-up Institute for Apprenticeships and a top-up to deal with the immediate financial pressures, I would have the breathing space as Chancellor to launch a proper public consultation on the future of the Levy. Only this will give us a chance to get reform right. Just announcing a solution would be disaster, given every business has implemented its Levy programme in a different way, with some focusing on lower-level entry routes, others upskilling middle management, and others retraining people as automation or artificial intelligence replaces roles. This diversity means any blunt reform would unfairly pull the rug from under employers and apprentices alike.

This consultation needs to ask what the Levy is trying to achieve. Is it about getting young people into their first job, retraining people into a new job, upskilling senior managers, or supporting sectors of the economy that struggle to recruit, including logistics and haulage? Currently, we are trying to do all of these things with a small pot of money and no strategy.

In the right lane: Lessons from the DVSA

Ian Gainford, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner and Policy Manager at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Talent in Logistics Journal spoke to Ian Gainford, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner and Policy Manager at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), about how to address the growing number of HGV vacancies in the UK.

With 59,000 driver vacancies for heavy goods vehicles (HGV) in the UK, and a driver shortage amounting to 21 per cent across Europe, there is pressure from industry to increase recruitment rapidly into
the sector. However, training and qualifications are required for many of the roles, including HGV and large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers. Pass rates for driving tests have been on the increase for the past decade but more still needs to be done to ensure drivers have the right training to be on the road safely.

Here, Ian Gainford talks about the most common reasons for failure, along with changes in legislation and the impact of technology on driver training and testing.

How do you view the current standard of LGV driving instructors?

The year-to-date pass rate for 2019/20 for LGV driving tests is 58.7 per cent. This reflects a steady increase year-on-year from 46.3 per cent in 2007/08. It also demonstrates how, through working together, we have improved the standards of LGV driver training, while providing an opportunity to professionalise the LGV training industry.

Reflecting on the current HGV driver shortage, how do you think this will impact driving instructors in the future?

We believe it will provide more opportunities for the training industry to work with haulage companies to address the driver shortage and try to make the industry more appealing, especially to younger people. DVSA conducts over 70,000 LGV tests a year, with over 40,000 drivers passing their vocational tests every year. These figures highlight how the service DVSA provides is helping to address the driver shortage.

Three years ago, the DVSA stopped running its voluntary register and started working with other parties. How do you feel this has progressed? What benefits or challenges have you seen?

DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving. By providing the haulage industry with a workforce of independently examined and registered driving instructors, it will continue to help increase the competence of professional lorry drivers. The higher the standard of LGV instruction, assessment and mentoring, the better drivers will be and the safer our roads will be. It also allowed DVSA to focus on carrying out driving tests, which it has a statutory responsibility to provide. This has helped DVSA to keep waiting times for lorry, coach and bus tests to a minimum.

DVSA values both registers, which have important parts to play in maintaining the high standards of the LGV training industry and we meet regularly in support of its governance teams.

Can you provide some updates on the legislative changes we have seen over recent months?

We haven’t made any legislative changes for several years because of a lack of parliamentary time and competing government priorities. The Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) introduced regulations in the summer of 2018, which allowed Cat B licence holders, who had undertaken a minimum of five hours’ specific training, to drive alternatively fuelled vehicles. Along with support from the LGV registers, we had a part in developing the training after the legislation had been implemented.

Are there any areas in which drivers most commonly fail their LGV tests? In which areas do training instructors need to focus most?

The main reason for people failing a rigid driving test is due to a lack of observations before emerging from junctions, and this is closely followed by the reverse exercise. For articulated vehicles, this is the opposite, with the reverse manoeuvre being the number one reason, closely followed by observations before emerging junctions. We want to understand better why reversing is such a problem so that we can help the training industry improve on this aspect.

How do you feel changes in technology, for example, Mercedes camera side mirrors and automation, will impact your job and the job of the instructors?

Firstly, it is imperative we understand the potential impact of new technology on driving standards
so that we can update or amend DVSA official publications, as well as our training guidance and, where needed, our National Driving Standards. Such indirect vision devices provide numerous benefits ranging from better aerodynamics, better vision of the field of view (for example, there are no wet and dirty windscreens to look through, nor any wet and dirty mirror surfaces), through to a better awareness of where the rear of the trailer is when reversing.

There is no need for a strategically placed cable tie or flag sticking out at the rear, and there is a reduction in blind spots. Instructors also need to remain in touch with advancing technology if they are to be able to answer questions from the more inquisitive trainees.

What are your thoughts on having such technologically advanced trucks on the road while older test and training trucks lack mod- cons? Do you see this as a problem?

There are so many different types of trucks, with varying levels of autonomy, so it would be very difficult to cover them all. Whether you are driving an old or new truck, the driver still needs to make decisions such as when to emerge on to a junction or when, and how much, to steer when completing the reverse manoeuvre or negotiating a turn. Companies have their own induction processes, which are essential when introducing drivers to their fleet of vehicles and equipment. This type of training allows them to focus on technology specific to the vehicle.

Hard work ahead

Peter Ward, CEO of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA).

There is plenty of hard work ahead before we “get Brexit done”, writes Peter Ward, CEO of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA).

It is hoped that the return of some political certainty following the Conservative Party’s overwhelming victory in last December’s general election will encourage much needed investment in the logistics sector. There have already been some welcome signs that the economic climate has been boosted by the result. Certainly, UKWA members that I have spoken to have expressed optimism that they, and the clients they serve, can move forward with a greater degree of confidence now much of the doubt surrounding Brexit is beginning to recede.

But while our exit from the EU will be confirmed by the end of January, everyone accepts that there is plenty of hard work ahead before we “get Brexit done”. The nature of Britain’s future relationship with the EU has yet to be defined and the Government’s pledge that the Brexit transition period will not be extended beyond December 2020 means that Mr Johnson and his team have until 31 December 2020 to prepare the UK for its new relationship with its European neighbour.

Many informed observers warn that, given the complex nature of trade agreements, the Government’s ability to reach a deal within the timeframe available has to be in doubt and so the risk of the UK’s leaving Europe on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms remains a possibility.

As UKWA has consistently highlighted, a withdrawal to WTO terms would almost certainly result in significant supply chain disruption. For example, if the UK leaves the EU on WTO terms it is estimated that some 200 million extra customs declarations will be required. The subsequent implications of a no deal for the movement of goods through our ports are therefore obvious.

I know, from meetings I have attended with various government departments since the election, that there is real confidence a deal will be struck that avoids the WTO scenario. We must all hope this optimism is not misplaced.

The logistics industry will also be keeping a keen eye on how the Government will approach the issue of migrant workers entering the UK during the coming negotiations. In common with the construction, healthcare and hospitality sectors, the logistics and warehousing sector desperately needs access to low skilled, low cost labour. With low youth unemployment figures in the UK, we look to the EU to supplement our workforce and UKWA will continue to press the Government to ensure that this source of labour remains available to UK logistics operators after the UK has cut its ties with the EU.

UKWA also remains committed to supporting the Government in shaping practical solutions to the issues that lie ahead. But no one should underestimate the scale of the task that remains before all of us. Clearly, Brexit planning should remain at the top of the agenda for all those companies who trade with the EU.

UKWA will continue to keep its members informed of legislative changes and the support provided by HMRC and other governmental departments. We will continue to work alongside government, offering insights from the frontline and providing a voice for our industry.

Online sales tax

As online shopping continues to account for an ever-bigger chunk of retail spending, empty shop premises are now a common site on every UK high street. With cries that the internet is killing the high street growing louder, talk has turned again to a review and overhaul of business rates and the possibility of alternative levies on e-commerce operators.

UKWA has been aware of rumblings from Westminster for some time that the changing face of retailing and, in particular, the ongoing decline of the high street, is likely to prompt the Government to introduce new taxes on internet sales.

While there is clearly a need for some tax regimes to be realigned to societal changes in the digital age, as the lines between retail, online fulfilment and logistics become increasingly blurred, we must ensure that the logistics industry, in which many companies already operate on extremely thin margins, is not hit with a tax it cannot afford.

The UKWA is monitoring the situation closely and will, of course, argue robustly against the imposition of any new taxes that adversely impact the companies that operate within the logistics services sector.

UKWA National Conference 2020

An influential programme of insightful speakers will address these issues and other pressing concerns at UKWA’s 2020 National Conference, which takes place at the Hallmark Queen Hotel, Chester, on 3-4 March 2020.

With the theme “Next Generation Logistics”, the two-day event will deliver an excellent opportunity to hear thought leaders, learn about emerging technologies and network with other senior professionals from the 3PL community alongside leading logistics users within the UK’s manufacturing, retail, automotive and aviation sectors.

The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge 2020

Diversity is more than just an HR buzzword; it can provide answers to many of the challenges facing the logistics sector. As such, a unique event has been created to highlight the benefits that diversity can bring.

“Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” Those were the wise words of American entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes and they are more pertinent today than ever before. Like other industries, the logistics sector is facing a variety of challenges brought about by rapidly rising consumer expectations. Essential to meeting these challenges is harnessing the diversity of all available talent.

In recent decades, social barriers have broken down and companies have increasingly come
to understand that not everyone fits the same mould. This is good news for the logistics sector. As a nation, we are a diverse mix of genders, ethnic backgrounds, abilities and beliefs, so it should follow that all employers embrace the wealth of talent available when recruiting and engaging staff.

Driven by a vision to promote the importance of diversity across the logistics sector, multimedia marketing company, Nimble Media, has partnered with Talent in Logistics (TIL) to create a unique event, The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge. This inaugural event, taking place on 24 June 2020, will be a huge team building opportunity and will be held at Newark Showground in the heart of the East Midlands.

The Diversity Challenge event series was first launched in 2016. Since then the event has provided opportunities for companies to come together in an informal environment to undertake a range of mental and physical challenges. Rail companies, in particular, have benefited from greater diversity and teamwork since taking part in the event series. It is a testament to this success that the event has now been expanded to encompass the entire logistics sector.

Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the core of The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge. As such, the event will bring together logistics professionals to work collaboratively through fun physical and mental team challenges. The event will also provide a platform for the industry to share best practice. Following the momentum building in logistics, it is hoped that The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge can set the agenda for how this can become a truly inclusive sector.

An “ideal” partnership

Talent in Logistics (TIL), the event’s delivery partner, shares the dedication to the recruitment, development, engagement and retention of the 2.5 million plus people working in logistics. TIL was specifically developed to support logistics employers and is, therefore, the ideal partner for The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge. The objective of TIL is to encourage these companies to address skills, training and career progression to retain exceptional staff and attract new employees.

“With equality, diversity and inclusion high on our agenda for 2020, teaming up with Nimble Media seemed like the ideal fit for us to showcase something we are extremely passionate about,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for TIL. To emphasise the importance of the event, Ruth cites recent Freight Transport Association (FTA) research suggesting that the sector remains a white- male dominated space. “This event is the perfect platform for logistics companies to showcase that they too believe in the benefits of creating an inclusive culture,” she says, “as well as bringing some workplace fun to their teams.

“We are very much looking forward to supporting The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge for 2020 and hope to see a lot of familiar and new faces take part in such a unique event for the sector.”

This year’s event will also be held in support of international development charity Transaid. The organisation was founded by Save the Children, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and its patron, HRH The Princess Royal. Transaid has more than 20 years’ expertise in multiple countries with partners and governments and has empowered people to build the skills they need to transform their lives through safe, accessible and sustainable transport. Transaid identifies champions and shares local transport solutions to improve access to basic services and economic opportunity for people in developing countries.

“We are delighted to support Talent in Logistics through The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge,” says Florence Bearman, Head of Fundraising for Transaid. As a global organisation working with individuals and organisations across both sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the UK transport and logistics industry, Transaid understands the importance of diversity. “We fully support the promotion of inclusivity in the workforce,” Florence adds, “and we are looking forward to partnering with The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge and finding out what’s in store for the teams involved in the challenge in 2020.”

However, the sector has yet to truly harness the wealth of talent available. The 2019 FTA logistics report confirmed that the sector continues to be dominated by male workers (86 per cent), with the proportion of women in the sector only at 13.2 per cent in Q1. Considering these statistics, it won’t be easy for the logistics sector to make significant gains in diversification. However, the companies that succeed will have access to a rich new labour pool. It is, therefore, crucial that the logistics sector heeds the words of Mr Forbes and does not become a stranger to the concept of diversity.

Could your employee be the Forklift Operator or LGV Driver of the Year?

As entries for the Forklift Operator of the Year and LGV Driver of the Year open on 13th January 2020, Talent in Logistics is urging businesses to enter their skilled employees in these renowned competitions.

“Encouraging members of your workforce to take part in competitions and awards is a great way to show them how much you value their contribution and recognise their knowledge and talent,” says Ruth Edwards for Talent in Logistics.  “Our competitions have also proved to be an incredibly motivating and enjoyable experience for those involved, which can in turn increase engagement and loyalty.” 

The first stage in both competitions is an online test, which opens for entries on 13th January and must be completed by 3rd April.  The best performing entrants will be announced on 12th May. These finalists will be invited to demonstrate their talent in live practical tests that take place during September. Winners of both competitions will be awarded their prize at the Talent in Logistics Awards on 1st October 2020 at the Concorde Conference Centre in Manchester.

The Forklift Operator of the Year competition is once again sponsored by UniCarriers, and this year the practical element will take the form of a roadshow, with three regional heats across the UK throughout September.  At each event, a series of interactive challenges, with a fun sports theme, will require operators to demonstrate both technical knowledge and practical lift truck operation. Finalists will complete all tests using a UniCarriers TX3 electric counterbalance lift truck, winner of the International Forklift of the Year (IFOY) 2019 and the Red Dot Award 2018.

“UniCarriers has a history of product development focusing on safety and operator ergonomics.  Providing trucks for this competition – especially our award-winning TX electric counterbalance, creates a spectacular showcase to the Logistics industry,” says Chris Bates, Sales Director for UniCarriers.  

He continues “Alongside the competition this year, UniCarriers will be hosting forklift truck roadshows which will not only demonstrate the trucks, and their latest technology, but allow visitors to gain advice on their Materials Handling Operation from our sales teams.”

The LGV Driver of the Year competition takes place on 8th September at Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire, UK. The competition will test technical knowledge and practical elements with challenges that comprise driving and reversing skills, walk around checks and relevant theory knowledge.

Companies can nominate their employees for both awards, or forklift operators and LGV drivers can sign up online to enter themselves in the competitions. Entry is free of charge and is subject to certain criteria and qualifications.

To enter now or find out more about the Forklift Operator of the Year or LGV Driver of the Year, visit:

Learn more about the Talent in Logistics 2020 event calendar and resources to attract, develop and engage employees, visit

Talent in Logistics Reveals Line-up for Develop Conference

Talent in Logistics Reveals Line-up for Develop Conference

Talent in Logistics has released the agenda for its Develop Conference this month which is designed to support instructors, trainers, professional training providers and internal training teams who are responsible for developing people in logistics and transport operations.

The conference takes place at Hotel Football in Manchester on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 and is set to fill a void by providing an outlet to collaborate, share expertise and work together to solve training challenges.

Kicking off the conference, delegates will hear from Sally Gilson, Freight Transport Association (FTA) Head of Skills Campaigning, as she explores, the recently launched FTA Skills Shortage Report. There will be a Vocational Training Update delivered by Ian Gainford, Assistant Chief Driving Examiner – Policy Manager at the DVSA and Driver CPC Training developments will be delivered by Elizabeth Heaton, National Standards and Accreditation Service Manager at the DVSA.

This will be followed by a session by Stuart McDonagh, Internal Quality Assurance at Merlin Supply Chain Solutions that will look into apprenticeships, titled ‘Apprenticeships: What Does Good Look Like?’.

For those interested in how automation and training technologies will affect training going forward, there will be a panel discussion that looks specifically at ‘Automation & Technology: What Training Will Instructors Be Delivering In The Future?’.

Delegates will also get practical advice from Andy Coram, Head of Risk Management & Head of Change Office at Home Office, in a topical session which focuses on ‘Preventing Clandestine Entrants & Human Trafficking’.

David Goss, Technical Manager from British Industrial Truck Association (BITA), along with Adam Smith, Chairman of the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) will be hosting a session to inform attendees about a number of key updates, titled ‘Industrial Trucks: Training Standards & Safety Update’.

“The logistics sector comes with specific challenges, and we often hear from training managers that generic talent events and publications miss the mark,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director of Talent in Logistics. “The Talent in Logistics Develop Conference helps fill this gap, giving organisations the tools with which to address the skills, training and career progression of their staff, and helping them develop the future logistics talent that is crucial to our sector’s success.”

Concluding the day, delegates will become part of the jury in a mock court hearing. Looking at a ‘Workplace Transport Accident’, Woodfines Solicitors will provide a sobering insight into the aftermath of accidents within the workplace.

“Speakers will be providing expert insight and actionable guidance, as well as being valuable CPD for instructors and trainers themselves,” says Ruth Edwards of Talent in Logistics.

All delegates that attend the Talent in Logistics Develop Conference will gain 4 hours CPD from The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) for attending.

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

Tickets for the Develop Conference are a great way to invest in your training teams at just £75+VAT. To register for the conference visit, contact or call 01952 520216.

Don’t forget to sign up for a free issue of the Talent in Logistics Journal online at

Is your fleet ready for Direct Vision Standard?

Is your fleet ready for Direct Vision Standard?

With only a couple of months to go before Direct Vision Standard (DVS) comes into effect in Central London, Emily Hardy, a road safety expert at Brigade Electronics UK and one of the consultants on the new regulations, discusses how fleet managers can ensure they are fully prepared for the new legislation.

As October approaches, fleet managers will be turning their attention to the implementation of the first stage of Direct Vision Standard, when permits become available from the beginning of the month.

DVS, which was passed by Transport for London (TfL) earlier this year after a consultation process with road safety charities, companies and manufacturers, will apply to HGVs weighing more than 12 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weighting and that enter or operate in Greater London. It is hoped that through implementation of this safety initiative, deaths and serious injuries from road collisions will be dramatically reduced on London’s streets by 2041.

While HGVs only make up four per cent of traffic in London, they are disproportionately represented in fatal collisions. Between 2015 and 2017, HGVs were involved in 63 per cent of fatal collisions with cyclists and 25 per cent with pedestrians.

Getting a permit

Fleet operators might be wondering what this means for them, and what they need to do to ensure their vehicles comply with the new standard. Vehicle manufacturers will issue a star rating in accordance with the DVS System – a series of approved technical protocols, which will be applied to HGVs to make an objective assessment of visibility from the driver’s position.

Is your fleet ready for Direct Vision Standard?

Direct Vision Standard Timeline

October 2019 – first permits issued
26 October 2020 – enforcement begins, and zero-star HGVs banned
26 October 2024 – zero to two star HGVs banned
2041 – scheme rollout complete

Initially, it will be the fleet operator’s responsibility to apply for the necessary permit by confirming their vehicles’ star ratings with the vehicle manufacturers. Fleet operators will need to contact vehicle manufacturers to confirm these ratings. If a vehicle is rated one or above, it will automatically be eligible for a permit. However, operators of vehicles that automatically qualify for a permit will still be encouraged to review and enhance their vehicles’ safety features.

In the event a vehicle has a zero-star visibility rating, or has no rating, it will need to meet the requirements of the Safe System – a series of vehicle safety measures designed to improve visibility and reduce the risk of collisions with vulnerable road users. If vehicles do not meet this standard, they will be banned by TfL.

Brigade Electronics anticipates that, of the 188,000 HGVs operating in London, 35,000 (19 per cent) will be banned by 2020 and 94,000 (50 per cent) will be banned by 2024, should safety standards not be improved.

Is your fleet ready for Direct Vision Standard?

Upgrading the fleet Many employers faced by this impending regulation change will have already taken action. If vehicles meet the requirements for one star, a permit will be granted automatically. However, for those employers who have not already taken appropriate action, or who have vehicles that do not meet the standard, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure vehicle safety by applying for the Safe System. The Safe System is a specification similar to Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) Silver and Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) standards that require devices to be fitted for indirect vision.

To improve vehicle safety, drivers can fit class V and VI cameras or mirrors, 360-degree cameras, reversing alarms and left turn alarms can be added to HGVs, as well as close proximity sensors, driver alerts and underside protection, to help protect other road users. In addition, driver training or retraining can have a massive benefit in ensuring staff are adhering to the latest practices.

To help simplify the process for fleet operators, Brigade Electronics has produced an easy-to-follow guide covering the main points of DVS. It also outlines the equipment fleet operators will need to fit to zerorated vehicles to ensure they meet the Safe System standards. For vehicles rated as one star or above, it is recommended that fleet operators review vehicle safety systems and fit supplementary safety features as soon as possible.

Fleet operators should be aware that one and two star vehicles will need to comply with the Safe System standards by October 2024, when permits for these, and zero-rated vehicles, will expire. Permits for star ratings of three and above will be valid for ten years. All permits will be provided free of charge. Vehicles found to be in breach of the permit scheme will be issued with a penalty of up to £550.

For fleet managers and vehicle operators wanting to find out whether their vehicles meet the standards, they need to contact the HGV manufacturer.


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Dennis Eagle







Forklift Operator of the Year 2020: UniCarriers sponsors Talent in Logistics’ roadshow event

Forklift operators have a challenging role, and without their talent, skill and professionalism, the sector couldn’t continue to operate. That is why in 2020 Talent in Logistics and the international industrial truck manufacturer UniCarriers will once again search for the ‘Forklift Operator of the Year’. For the first time, Talent in Logistics and UniCarriers will hit the road, as they set to host a month full of competitions and roadshows – visiting in the North, South and Midlands.

Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director at Talent in Logistics, thanks UniCarriers for their continued support – UniCarriers officially sponsors the event for the fourth year in a row now. “It’s extremely important to us that we work collaboratively with organisations and individuals to make a difference, whilst ensuring our key focus is on the people who are seldom recognised but without whom our sector could not survive”, says Ruth Edwards.

UniCarriers is one such organisation – a company that shares Talent in Logistics’ passion for recognising talented individuals who showcase safety and efficiency in their everyday role.

This is also emphasised by UniCarriers UK Sales Director Chris Bates: “The relationship between Talent in Logistics and UniCarriers is a perfect fit. Our business has a history of product development focusing on safety and operator ergonomics.  Providing trucks for this competition – especially our award-winning TX electric counterbalance, creates a spectacular showcase to the Logistics industry.  Alongside the competition this year, UniCarriers will be hosting forklift truck roadshows which will not only demonstrate the trucks, and their latest technology – but allow visitors to gain advice on their Materials Handling Operation from our sales teams”.

ABA raises the standard

Since it was established in 2012, the Accrediting Bodies Association for Workplace Transport (ABA) has sought to reduce accidents in the workplace through defining materials handling equipment (MHE) operator training testing standards.

Following last year’s successful launch of its new standardised counterbalance and reach truck operator testing, the ABA turned its attention to an increasingly popular piece of MHE — the powered pedestrian pallet truck. 

In a move that could dramatically reduce the number of workplace incidents involving this type of equipment, the ABA has introduced the latest testing procedure for operators completing training on a wide range of rider and non-rider pallet trucks for stacking and non-stacking operations.

The new ABA test — which covers ABA truck categories A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6 and A7 — will be the required standard from 1 December 2019. Any tests that are not conducted to the new standard after this date will be invalid.

Adam Smith, Chair of the ABA, said the introduction of the new Basic Operating Skills Test “will play a vital role in ensuring adequate training is provided on this type of equipment, a Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 requirement that is all too often overlooked.”

Managing risks in the workplace

The market for powered pedestrian trucks is the fastest growing part of the materials handling sector. Many businesses recognise these machines as cost-effective alternatives to more expensive reach and counterbalance trucks. Others see trading up from hand pallet trucks to powered models as a way of increasing productivity and reducing manual handling injuries, including sprains and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).

Unfortunately, this growth hasn’t been mirrored by a corresponding increase in awareness of the risks posed by this type of equipment and the need for appropriate training. 

Even a cursory search of the internet will reveal tragic incidents that have occurred with this type of equipment. In Cheltenham, an agency worker suffered a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures when using a pallet truck to move beer kegs. An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the worker had no previous experience using this type of truck, and the company had not provided training. The employer was fined £60,000 and suffered untold damage to its reputation. In their report, the HSE inspector confirmed that: “If appropriate training had been provided, the lifechanging injures sustained by the worker could have been prevented.”

But it isn’t just smaller businesses that fail to provide adequate training. A leading supermarket chain was fined £1 million after a delivery driver operating an electric pallet truck at one of its stores sustained fractures to all the toes on his left foot, requiring two to be amputated. Here, too, a lack of structured training was identified as a contributing factor.

Ensuring safety standards

Standardisation is a crucial aspect of the ABA’s role. Uniformity of testing standards is an essential element in the association’s aim to reduce workplace transport incidents and improve productivity  and profitability. Uniform testing requires ABA members to employ the same testing standards. Until the formation of the ABA, each accrediting body set its own testing procedure which meant there was no consistency.

The ABA has worked closely with lift truck manufacturers, trade unions and employers to ensure a more robust test methodology which is, at the same time, more relevant to the modern working environment.

As a result, the practical test now targets habitual bad practice, meaning candidates who repeat the same safety-related fault will fail the test’s practical element and require further training. In addition, more serious failings now carry a higher penalty, making it easier to accrue the number of points necessary to fail the test.

Changes have also been made to the theory test. Under the new test standard, five of the questions relating to safety-critical issues are now mandatory and therefore must be answered correctly in order to pass the test. Initially introduced for counterbalance and reach trucks, the new test standard played a vital part in addressing concerns that operator testing was too easy.

Keen to continue its efforts to standardise operator testing, the ABA is already working to develop new standards for the testing of the following ABA equipment groupings; sideloaders (C), order pickers (E), VNA equipment (F) and rough terrain trucks (J). With a summit planned for October 2019, the ABA is keen to draw feedback from the industry as a whole in its efforts to develop these national standards.