Members of leading transport body the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have expressed fears of a looming skills shortage in the industry once the UK begins to climb out of recession. A survey of FTA members found that over half could foresee a dearth of workers following economic recovery.
Nic Allen, General Manager of Training for FTA, said:
"Traditionally, the majority of those working within the logistics sector have been men over the age of 40. With widespread redundancies and job losses across the entire sector, we are deeply concerned, as are our members, that we will lose that skills base.
"We need to invest in the next generation of logistics workers now. Once demand for goods and services returns to normal levels post-recession, we may be facing a weak link in our supply chains."
The need for new blood within the sector is recognised by FTA members, with over half saying that a career in logistics would be a good one for younger people. However, there was also emphatic recognition that not enough young people were taking up this option. The lack of diversity within the logistics workforce was a concern, with nearly 70 per cent saying that women were under-represented.
FTA has been working hard to improve the image of the profession and make it more accessible to broader sections of the population, through its own training offer and its work with other stakeholders, including the relevant sector skills councils. However, it is concerned that the removal of Government funding for courses such as NVQs, which can include partial training for the soon-to-be-introduced Freight Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC), may scupper these efforts.
While the Driver CPC will introduce structured, compulsory training for professional freight drivers and make our roads safer, with the extra pressure on businesses as a result of the recession and increased costs of operation, such as fuel duty increases, FTA is concerned that some companies may put off investing in training. This tactic could prove to be a false economy as companies may face increasingly high prices from training providers over the five-year period in which their drivers have to complete 35 hours of periodic training.
"FTA wants to be at the forefront of making a job in logistics one of first choice, not last resort. Professionalising the industry will help improve logistics’ image and attract a much broader spectrum of entrants into the sector. By taking up FTA’s Driver CPC courses at this point, rather than leaving it until later, businesses and individuals are not only helping to invest in their own future, but the future of the whole sector."