Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Freight Association Opens Consultancy Arm and Speaks Out on Migrant Workers

Brexit Concerns Spurs Logistics Lobby Group Into Action
Shipping News Feature

UK – The latest government proposal regarding bringing forward restrictions on EU migrants deemed to be 'low-skilled', and going against the two year time limited route in Theresa May's original plans, will worsen the severe labour shortage in the logistics sector, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The business group says it is calling on the government to realise how reliant the industry is on EU workers and to reconsider its approach; these vital workers must be welcomed post-Brexit transition period to ensure the sector can continue operating. According to FTA’s Logistics Skills Report 2019, EU workers currently constitute 13% of the entire logistics workforce, and declining EU net migration has contributed to a 43% rise in job vacancies in the transport and storage industry over the past couple of years.

Within the government’s proposed scheme, due to be confirmed this week, there is likely to be provision for additional EU workers for sectors suffering from a specific shortage of staff, but only temporarily. Sally Gilson, Head of Skills Policy at FTA, commented:

“The FTA is calling on the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to urgently reconsider his proposal to impose arbitrary qualification and salary thresholds on EU migrants, which includes commercial drivers and warehouse operators, at the end of the Brexit transition period. The logistics sector is facing a severe labour shortage, 59,000 HGV drivers alone are urgently needed just to keep operations afloat.

”With the shortfall of warehouse staff anticipated to worsen over the next 12 months, Mr Johnson’s proposals will severely impact the very industry charged with keeping Britain trading, the logistics industry. The FTA is calling for the government to include logistics workers, particularly warehouse operators and HGV drivers, in its provision for ‘specific shortages’.

“The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, ensuring shops, hospitals, restaurants and schools etc. all receive the goods they need to operate. While businesses within the sector will do everything possible to keep Britain trading, without adequate levels of staff, operations will become strained and UK plc will suffer. The UK urgently needs more logistics staff, so these workers should be excluded from any restrictive EU immigration policy.”

Meantime the FTA has strengthened its consultancy offering for businesses across the supply chain with the launch of a new strategic consultancy arm. The FTA says that the new team of specialist staff will bring a wealth of experience and strategic insight gained across the sector, which will complement the organisation's transport operations consultancy team.

Core consultancy services will include warehouse improvement and optimisation, including process mapping and review, manpower modelling, systems functionality assessments and cost evaluations, as well as a full warehouse design and automation service. This will include operational profiling, modelling for storage and pick method design, warehouse sizing and layout design and staffing requirements.

Led by a group of industry experts, Eddy de Jong, Martin Palmer and Paul Wilson, who each have more than 25 years knowledge of specialist logistics consultancy working on major projects with the biggest brands across the industry, the new strategic consultancy offering will aim to broaden the FTA’s service capacity. David Wells, FTA’s CEO, commented:

“With Brexit, technology and other disruptive forces driving changes in the way that goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to the success of UK PLC. With so many outside forces shaping the world of business at such a rapid rate, it is vital that our sector is prepared to be agile and adapt to the changing world in which our industry operates, and the FTA’s new strategic consultancy offering will help organisations to identify and consider new opportunities and prepare for a long term future with confidence.

“The FTA’s new strategic consultancy offering will complement our existing operational consultancy team, ensuring that our members and other representatives of the logistics industry can receive the best possible advice at both a strategic and operational level. As one of the biggest business groups in the UK, the FTA is ideally placed to help members develop and grow their businesses, and ensure that our sector can continue to deliver for UK PLC into the 2020s and beyond.”