Thursday, December 12, 2013

Government Supported Logistics Employment Scheme Crashes Eliciting Criticism from Managing Body

National Skills Academy Logistics in Liquidation
Shipping News Feature

UK – A government supported initiative to aid employers in the field of logistics closed at the end of November and has elicited a statement strongly criticising the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) which had responsibility for bankrolling the scheme. The National Skills Academy Logistics (NSAL) based in Milton Keynes and governed by way of a National Employer Board (NEB), was put into liquidation after being told funds were no longer available.

The NSAL was established to offer a range of solutions to help employers meet legislative requirements and also to work with them to develop customised skills training solutions. Skills for Logistics provided support to the NEB as they worked with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to develop the future of the Academy. According to the NEB statement:

“The SFA was unhappy with the way that the NSAL executive team ran the Academy. Despite establishing a strong provider base, and the equally strong support and encouragement of the NEB members, engagement with the Logistics Industry was poor and the NSAL struggled to demonstrate that it could be sustainable. The SFA was, however, happy with the Academy’s NEB and they invited us to resubmit an employer backed business plan in March, with a view that we would continue the NSAL.

“The NEB carried out a lot of work, supported by Skills for Logistics, to reshape the Academy, while working to continue with existing operations. Whilst knowing that time was of the essence, SFA has continually missed deadlines in terms of decisions and response, which has elongated the process, despite continued expressions of support and substantial new business prospects. When they finally turned down the resubmission, the SFA did however say that they would support the development work that had taken place during the re-submission period.

“The SFA then changed their minds, twice, before finally confirming this week (beginning 25 November 2013), that there were no further funds available. There is no other alternative but to put the Academy into liquidation. The NEB, as a group of unpaid volunteers, have been let down by the SFA and we are unhappy with the way we have been treated. We strongly believe that the NSAL experience should be taken as a lesson to other employers who give their time to government based initiatives on a free and voluntary basis.”

Despite the efforts of executive members to engage MP’s in a movement to encourage more apprenticeships in the logistics sector it seems that, after being funded from August 2011, the source dried up around three months ago. An SFA spokesperson was quoted at the time of liquidation (no mention of the situation appears on the SFA website) as saying:

“We have been working with NSAL over the past two years, to ensure delivery against their start-up plan remained on target. We asked NSAL to review and submit a revised delivery plan, to address concerns we had raised against them achieving their yearly delivery plan targets. Following assessment of the revised plan, the agency’s decision was to not support and we understand NSAL will now cease operations. The agency’s priority is to work with NSAL and the Sector Skills Council over the next few months, to ensure that any learners and apprentices are supported by their current providers and employers so that they can continue their learning and apprenticeships.”