Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Freight Forwarding Association Looks to the Future of the Profession

Grateful for Government Cash BIFA Makes its Own Moves
Shipping News Feature

UK – For some time now the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has been leading the drive to attract more and younger recruits to the freight and logistics professions. The Association, which principally represents forwarding companies, has welcomed the news then that the government is extending the period of time that businesses can access cash incentives for hiring new apprentices.

The cash incentives were first introduced in August 2020 and offered businesses £2,000 to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24, while those that employ new apprentices aged 25 and over were to be paid £1,500. They were increased to £3,000 for all apprentices in February, but that scheme ended in September, but the government has prolonged the scheme by four months until the end of January.

Having been actively involved in the creation of an International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, BIFA has committed to promote its availability since it was introduced in 2018. Carl Hobbis, BIFA executive director, who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, said that the extension in funding support is a further reason for BIFA members to consider the apprenticeship pathway as a means of adding fresh talent to the industry. BIFA director general, Robert Keen commented:

“Whilst our members, quite rightly, remain focused on significant business continuity issues, we welcome the extension of the funding. As one of the largest providers of freight forwarding and Customs-related training courses, we are ready to help any of our members that are seeking to take advantage of the additional funding being made available to recruit apprentices.

“There is also a dedicated area of the BIFA website – https://apprentices.bifa.org/ - that can help both employers and potential recruits to better understand apprenticeship opportunities in the freight forwarding industry.”

Meanwhile the literature packs which BIFA promised to send to members which we detailed last month have been dropping through the letterboxes of logistics interests throughout the UK. The idea is to encourage the professionals to seek out new talent in schools and spread the ever more amplified word that this is a career with a myriad different opportunities.

This promotional material is the first part of a wider industry inspiration programme that will help members to highlight to students the available routes when making career choices, identify the core values and behaviours required when applying for jobs, and provide advice that may encourage young people to broaden their horizons. BIFA believes that schools need employer engagement and apart from the blue-chip organisations, many members generally don’t know where to start or who to approach, so it is encouraging those members to reverse this and reach out to schools in their vicinity.

Whilst the trade association has its own plans to have more proactive engagement with schools, it hopes that the literature that is being distributed will inspire members around the country to do something locally. Carl Hobbis observes:

“Industry promotion is one of BIFA’s key roles and part of that is encouraging logistics as a career path. We see career guidance via school events as being key to that. Since the Brexit vote and the onset of the Covid pandemic, global supply chains have been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a career in the international freight sector that manages those supply chains.

“Apprenticeships are certainly something that a lot of students are considering, rather than taking on the debt associated with a degree, and we are reminding members that there is a specific apprenticeship standard for International Freight Forwarding, that BIFA was instrumental in establishing.

“Many of our members are doing some fantastic things already, but we, as a trade association need to do more. This literature is just the start and provides a framework to support members, and help them to attract the next generation to the freight forwarding and logistics industry.”

Photo: This group of BIFA apprentices were keen to talk about their experiences.