Friday, August 7, 2020

Lockdown Gives Time for Essential training in Logistics as Brexit Approaches

Industry Organisations Urge Companies to Take Action Now
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – As the world attempts to crawl from the slough of viral despond which has impacted every place and industry, the emphasis from many in the logistics associated industries is on the routes to recovery, with a determination to come back stronger than before.

In a bizarre twist of events the long lockdown in the UK may well have suited enterprising companies and their staff, furloughed or otherwise, as Brexit looms on the horizon and comes with its own specific set of problems. At the British International Freight Association (BIFA) for example the organisation was swift to transfer training to online formats, enabling those at home to polish and extend their skills.

Indeed, for the freight forwarding sector which BIFA members operate in, there has been active encouragement in the form of government funding in a desperate attempt to teach the required number of staff the tortuous complications of Customs tariffs and the new import and export systems that will become mandatory from 1 January 2021.

BIFA has been telling the authorities for months that training the requisite numbers of personnel is likely to take more time than that which is available, but certainly with the plethora of suitable courses available, plus the financial incentives offered by government, there is a fighting chance to at least be in a better position than might have been the case had the pandemic not have struck.

The need for specific training with such as BIFA was summed up this week by Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK who pointed out that the 200,000 or so businesses which currently trade with Europe have less than 150 days left to the UK’s EU departure. She advises members to prepare now as organisations will need to take many of the same steps to maintain the supply chain whatever the political outcome in Brussels and London, saying:

”All importers and export traders will need to ensure they have import and export paperwork and systems ready, whatever the outcome of the political negotiations. These include applying for a GB Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number which is needed before any goods can be moved, and knowing the Commodity Code and customs value of the goods, which are all needed to make a customs declaration and calculate duties.

“In addition, hauliers will need to understand and be able to use at least eight new IT systems to make Roll-On Roll-Off trade move efficiently, there are four separate systems required by the UK government and one for each of Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. All will take time to install and learn and should not be left to the last minute.

“And there are many other areas which, while seemingly innocuous, could trip up the very best intentions of traders to maintain a seamless supply chain. Businesses need to ask themselves have they considered how they will make declarations to HMRC systems, and whether they will employ an agent?

”It is also important to consider whether they can, and would benefit from, using any available simplifications or deferred customs declarations for standard goods. All this takes time and needs to be factored into the planning process, leaving it to the last minute could be problematic at best.”

Whilst Brexit continues to occupy the minds of those in Britain nobody will have missed just how hard the aviation industry has been hit by the virus. Training in the industry post-pandemic has been very much on the minds at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which, like BIFA, has been switching its instructional and educational programmes to a video format.

To explain the breadth and depth of what’s available in the way of instruction IATA Director of Training, Stephanie Siouffi has made a short video which can be viewed HERE. She tells how IATA are developing around 100 training products to ‘re-skill, up-skill and right-skilling’ the workforce.

Photo: IATA’s Stephanie Siouffi.