Thursday, November 6, 2014

Freight Transport Association Partners Government in Logistics and Road Haulage Recruitment Deal

HGV Driver Shortage is Just One Area Needing Attention
Shipping News Feature

UK – With many in the road haulage industry voicing their concerns in recent weeks about driver shortages, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has signed a Partnership Agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which sets out specific objectives, measures and pledges aimed at improving recruitment and skill levels throughout the supply chain logistics industry. Though not a new phenomenon, the issue of driver shortages is continual and, in the run up to Christmas, the lack of fully qualified drivers is affecting operations and the worry is that the freight industry may struggle to cope with demand in the coming weeks leading up to the busiest time of the year for many businesses.

The FTA’s Managing Director of Membership and Policy, James Hookham met with Employment Minister, Esther McVey to discuss ‘specific issues with the aim of obtaining specific outcomes’ for the freight and logistics industry, and in particular highlighting the urgent issue of driver shortage. The FTA and the DWP Partnership Agreement outlines a five point plan to improve the awareness of the opportunities in the logistics sector by JobCentre advisors and to help the FTA members understand the help and support, including grants, available from the Government.

The Partnership Agreement’s objectives are to attract young people, especially, into the industry and improve the image and understanding of logistics; highlight skills shortage such as HGV drivers; provide details of routes to funding for skills for the FTA members; provide the logistics industry with fit for purpose qualifications and gain government funding for businesses for training. The Agreement commits the FTA and the DWP to:

  • Work together to raise the profile of the logistics sector with jobseekers, through local and national initiatives;
  • Develop work experience and employment and skills programmes to make it easier for job seekers to gain employment in the logistics sector;
  • Share labour market intelligence that will help guide both the DWP and industry on vacancy and skills gaps;
  • Inform and support the DWP's JobCentre advisors’ understanding of the breadth of opportunities and career prospects in the logistics sector;
  • Promote the professionalising of the industry through new logistics qualifications.

During the meeting the FTA pressed the Minister on support for the extension of student loans for the funding of vocational training starting with the urgent need for licence acquisition for aspiring HGV drivers. Hookham said:

“The FTA is delighted to sign this Partnership Agreement with the Minister for Employment. Our members have outlined the urgent need to address the issue of skills shortages – particularly the lack of qualified drivers. This Agreement outlines clear objectives, particularly regarding the improvement of recruitment and skill levels in the logistics industry and commits the FTA and the DWP to specific outcomes to solve specific issues to resolve this [situation] as soon as possible.

“It is crucial that over the next five years fleet and transport managers engage with and attract more people into the freight and logistics sector and this Partnership Agreement will enable us to help raise the profile of transport in the wider labour market.”

The logistics industry is currently experiencing a skills shortage with concerns over the lack of younger people entering the sector, especially HGV drivers, concerning all in  the supply chain from manufacturers to freight forwarders. The industry is vital to the UK economy as every other sector is reliant upon the smooth running of the supply chain, and what with consumer demand increasing and technological change, the logistics industry requires an adaptable workforce equipped with the correct skills.

Photo: One answer to the problem? Probably not, the futuristic Mercedes Benz self-driving truck which can be seen in action here.