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Logistics apprenticeships offer real opportunity

Skills for Logistics, Milton Keynes, April 2012. Prime Minister David Cameron MP told an audience of party supporters and business people how the government plans to create more apprenticeships and make vocational training easier to access and more rigorous. Speaking during a visit to logistics driver training provider System Training in Carlisle he set out four challenges:

"First, we’ve neglected basic skills. Things like English and Maths – and yet they are the most valuable vocational skills of all. Second, we’ve treated practical skills as a soft subject. We haven’t insisted on rigour and high standards. Third, there was a suspicion of business and a sense that employers shouldn’t be allowed too close to courses. And fourth, while we created a clear glide path into university for academic study we have left the route to vocational learning confusing and incomplete."

Advocating the role aprenticeships have to play in achieving the best jobs, the prime minister pointed out how half of the board members at Rolls Royce in Derby started out as apprentices, Mr. Cameron said: "I think one of the best gateways to university level study should be to do an apprenticeship."

It is highly appropriate that the prime minister chose a training provider in the logistics sector to make his speech on apprenticeships. High quality apprenticeships in logistics are offering young people vocational training leading to real jobs in a sector that is essential to the performance of the UK economy.

To date, over 25,000 individuals have successfully graduated with Skills for Logistics apprenticeships, going on to earn an estimated £0.5bn per year between them and bringing their employers the efficiency benefits of employees with up to date and relevant skills.

"SfL can point unequivocally to the high quality and success of its Logistics job and employer focused apprenticeship schemes. These are created in close partnership with employers in the industry and are built around the high demand for the right kind of skills in the logistics sector. This means our apprenticeships have delivered individuals with the capabilities demanded by the logistics industry," said Dr Mick Jackson, CEO of Skills for Logistics. "Success is measured by their ability to carry out the job in its entirety, assessed by those already skilled in the role."

SfL has two levels of apprenticeship available: the Intermediate Apprenticeship, which is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes; and the Advanced Apprenticeship, which corresponds to 2 A-level passes. Each SfL apprenticeship comprises five key elements:
1. A Competencies Qualification recognising the practical skills needed to be competent in the job role
2. A Technical Knowledge Qualification to provide evidence of understanding theoretical knowledge
3. Functional skills to ensure basic literacy and numeracy skills and, as relevant, IT skills
4. Employee Responsibilities & Rights to provide awareness of issues such as equal opportunities and health & safety
5. Personal Learning and Thinking Skills to provide the broader skills such as team working needed to function in the workplace.

SfL is working with the National Apprenticeship Service to develop more higher level apprenticeships to give employers the flexibility to offer this very powerful alternative route to school leavers. New apprenticeship frameworks are being specified and developed by occupational skills groups of employers, chaired by trade associations and professional institutes. The National Skills Academy – Logistics (NSAL) will tailor these frameworks into effective programmes and deliver them, to a very high quality, where they are required.

Jackson concluded: "High quality apprenticeship frameworks, such as those offered by Skills for Logistics, are a valuable alternative opportunity for vocational training for many young people, particularly those put off University by high tuition fees."

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