Transport Labour Market & Skills – Call for Views and Ideas

Transport Labour Market & Skills – Call for Views and Ideas

In a bid to ‘super-charge’ the transport sector’s skills and build a workforce for the future, Talent in Logistics have worked with representative groups to gather views and ideas on the most significant labour market and skills challenges across the sector.

Gathering views from the transport sector

On 22nd March 2022 more than 100 delegates from warehousing, transport and logistics businesses, and training organisations, from across the UK met at the Talent in Logistics Conference. It is an event where Instructors, Trainers and Operations professionals join sector leaders for insight into training changes and real-world challenges faced by the warehousing, transport and logistics sector.

On the day, one of the sessions was devoted to answering questions on the recently launched “Transport and Labour Market & Skills” consultation. It was an interactive and collaborative session designed to get views from all the delegates representing large and small firms up and down the UK.

Talent in Logistics has drafted a formal response for the Government on behalf of the conference delegates.

Talent in Logistics Conference – Delegate Views and Ideas

  1. In your view, what skills does the transport sector need in the future?

While it is a given that drivers need to learn to operate the relevant class of vehicle(s), there may be opportunities to upskill so that they can provide a better, or wider service. Furthermore, it should be noted that drivers need very different skills sets to the Trainers or Operations staff.

People and customer service skills are essential across the transport sector, and it is clear that IT and digital skills would be increasingly important in the future. The ability to adapt to new technologies is therefore important including the ability to operate alternative fuelled vehicles (AFVs).

From a recruitment perspective, it is suggested that HR teams in the sector need to improve their marketing skills to attract new talent and help collectively change the perception of the sector. There is also an ageing workforce requiring skills that may assist older drivers and for those that move on to mentor and coach rising stars, they need the skills and knowledge to do this effectively.

Direct suggestions from the sector when posed this question include:

  • Computer / IT skills (for both drivers and trainers)
  • Digital skills
  • Functional skills in information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • Marketing careers in schools/colleges
  • Adaptability to ever changing technology
  • Skills to operate more vehicle power types, including Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs)
  • Maintenance / repair skills
  • Overall improvement in skills / continuous improvement
  • Skills to operate new technologies
  • Experience, understanding technology, understanding environment/alternative fuel, marketing/PR skills, communication, structure e.g. training, legislation
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Marketing skills to attract talent
  • People skills / Soft skills / Customer service skills
  • Skills to use planning tools
  • Skills that help an ageing workforce
  • Maths skills
  • Skills to help with flexibility
  • Management of people
  • Advocacy skills
  • Skills for mentoring / becoming a role model / coaching
  • Internal communications skills for Interdepartmental understanding
  1. How, in your view, can current qualification and training routes be made more accessible for those who want to pursue a career in the transport sector?

A key factor in making the training more accessible is cost and affordability for the target market. Availability of more blended learning options nationwide would help alongside more funding (and easier access to it) for vocational training, and funded routes for young people which work without employment (apprenticeships/traineeships for example require an employer), such as through schools and colleges (GCSE/A-Level/T-Level Logistics).

It is important that the sector becomes more attractive as a whole. Open days may help to spread the message, as well as Government backed advertising and promotions in relevant media channels and on social media. Plus, promoting the sector, and challenging negative preconceptions about it, in schools and colleges.

Other suggestions include offering “student loans” for young people to use to learn to be a professional driver, or providing incentives for young people. Retraining and developing the homeless community, ex-prisoners, and other minorities can be achieved through programmes designed specifically for these groups.

Quotes from our sector delegates include:

  • Affordability according to the realistic salaries offered in the job market
  • Encourage blended learning to incorporate a modern approach
  • Funding for vocational training (equivalent to the University route)
  • Routes which don’t require employer backing
  • Open days
  • Training / apprenticeship levy – encourage, promote understanding and actively assist
  • Advertising / Promotions in relevant media / channels / social media
  • Academies
  • Improved Apprenticeships
  • Publicised in schools/colleges that there are sector recognised national training qualifications
  • Improve funding,
  • Review restrictions e.g. insurance, licences
  • More Government funding
  • Loans to drivers
  • Incentives at a young age
  • Retraining and development of homeless
  • Prison services
  • Make the sector more attractive for people who are not attracted to it
  • Cut the “red tape”
  • Raise the profile of the sector in general
  • Level up logistics careers
  • Bring education closer to sector
  • Make more driving tests available
  1. What, in your view, are effective ways to attract young people and career changers into a career in the transport sector?

It is important for young people and career changers to clearly see the career routes and progression, so they can see that there are good prospects and rewards.

Competitive pay, rewards, and work-life balance are important, alongside visibility of good working conditions. Seeing a day in the life of a driver or person in the transport sector may make it look much more appealing. Good facilities onsite and on the road would also help improve the perception of the working day.

Changing the perception that “being a lorry driver is a last resort” is crucial alongside promoting equal opportunities. Work experience opportunities help, but creating a better focus in the school curriculum and optimising apprenticeships will help further.

Roadshows, open days, and career fairs may also have an important part to play. In addition, logistics and supply chain coverage in the national curriculum would aid understanding and appreciation of the crucial role of the sector.

Ideas from the sector include:

  • Visibility of career routes / progression
  • Work experience
  • Schools curriculum optimise apprenticeships – educational improvements
  • Entry level barriers
  • Day in the life of (DILO) work experience weeks
  • Insurance has barriers
  • Change perception – Image change away from “I ended up as a lorry driver”
  • Great working conditions
  • Good facilities
  • Infrastructure
  • Competitive pay
  • Good prospects
  • Rewards
  • Open days designed to attract young people
  • Warehouse to wheels – hunt for talent in the warehouse
  • Better truck stops
  • Roadshows / career fairs
  • Review expectation of Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT)
  • Equal opportunities
  • Attract Ex-emergency services and MOD
  • Engage with leavers who are already skilled
  • Introduce into schools
  • Reduce working hours
  • Promote and focus on work life balance
  • Aim at students, advertise for customers in stores
  • Apprenticeships
  • Awareness
  • Make it exciting and attractive to be part of the sector
  • Create an easier path
  • Bring education closer to sector
  • Promote diversity
  • More clear career progression and development path
  1. What, in your view, are the barriers to further increasing diversity, inclusion and social mobility in the transport sector?

Stereotyping, unconscious bias, and the culture in some companies is a key factor preventing diversity. With this in mind, it could be difficult to introduce new and young LGV/HGV drivers, minorities, and groups such as ex-prisoners or the homeless into careers in transport and logistics. For employers, now is a time to re-think recruitment strategies and longer term initiatives.

Poor facilities in businesses and on the roadside may also prevent some groups joining the sector. Especially when considered alongside perceived low pay, tough working hours, and poor work-life balance. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the sector which may also give the perception that there is no career progression.

There also seems to be a lack of proactive management across the sector from those with diverse backgrounds. Also, generally a lack of role models who would help encourage more diversity. For the younger generation, there are very few social media influencers in transport sector, so it rarely registers as a career opportunity for them.

Some suggested barriers within the sector include:

  • Sexual discrimination
  • Transport/logistics is not introduced / promoted at secondary school level
  • Stereotyping in companies
  • Difficult to employ new / young LGV drivers (insurance issues)
  • Lack of finance to assist with licence acquisition
  • Poor facilities
  • Costs of entry
  • Demographic issues (male/female balance, the ageing workforce)
  • Low pay
  • Lack of knowledge / understanding of the sector
  • Perception of (lack of) career progression
  • Lack of upskilling opportunties– not available or not selected for
  • Unconscious bias
  • Lack of proactive management with diverse backgrounds
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Very few/no social media influencers in transport sector
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of flexible working
  • Poor safety
  • Company cultures needs to change
  • Few role models
  • Lack of accessibility
  • Geographic issues
  • Public transport network
  • Historical preconception
  • Expectation of women raising children
  1. How, in your view, can barriers to diversity, inclusion and social mobility in the transport sector be reduced?

More training across the sector will help to mitigate against unconscious bias in the workplace. Without making the transport sector a comfortable place to work for everyone, staff retention will be low and it will be hard to recruit.

At the same time, raising specific awareness among diverse/minority groups will help drive interest in a career in the transport sector.

Targeting each group with messages that mean something to them will help make career opportunities more attractive and welcoming. Open conversations and engagement with each group will further improve the effectiveness of any communications alongside case studies to show “people like me” making a success.

More engagement with schools and youth groups will help break some of the barriers and building respect for people working in the sector generally will help change perception and attitudes.

Better health and hygiene in companies and at truck stops may also assist in reducing anxiety for staff. While incentives, good pay and rewards will make the job attractive, it may only mask some of the underlying issues described above.

Ideas from the sector about reducing barriers to diversity include:

  • Better health and hygiene in companies and truck stops
  • Opportunities at graduate level/many years of experience – introductions should be offered for all levels
  • More engagement with schools/youth groups
  • Investing in people
  • Build respect for what we do!
  • Consultation / engage with government
  • Get schools / education bodies involved
  • Training within sector to mitigate against unconscious bias
  • Proactive engagement with diverse backgrounds
  • Challenge public opinion, raise profile of sector to opinions
  • Reduce red tape
  • Open conversations
  • Feedback from operators/warehouse operatives
  • Case studies – to show “people like me” making a success
  • Incentives

About Talent in Logistics

Since 2017, not-for-profit organisation Talent in Logistics has been building a community of industry experts, sector leaders, employers of all sizes and training providers who share a common interest in helping the multi-modal logistics sector overcome people and skills challenges.

Talent in Logistics hosts a range of events (physical and virtual) to connect the multi-modal logistics community. Through conferences, webinars, and its annual Awards event,  Talent in Logistics provides a forum for learning and sharing actionable insights.

With its unique and total focus on people in multimodal logistics, Talent in Logistics is dedicated to providing high quality, accessible resources for the industry. This includes podcasts, research, white papers, publications and podcasts, alongside a free Jobs Board and ‘Learning Through Logistics’ resources to help encourage future generations of talent.

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