Monday, March 5, 2018

UK Freight Forwarding Gets a Boost from National Apprenticeship Week 2018

BIFA Scheme for Professional Qualification Awaiting Government Approval
Shipping News Feature
UK – This week sees the 11th National Apprenticeship Week (NAW2018) in the UK at a most appropriate time for the British logistics sector which is working hard to raise the profile of this, our 'anonymous' industry. Whilst the road haulage sector struggles to find enough competent drivers the British International Freight Association (BIFA) is now just awaiting final approval from the for its proposed international freight forwarding apprenticeship scheme.

The theme for NAW2018 is 'Apprenticeships Work' to showcase how apprenticeships perform, for individuals, for employers, for the community and to illustrate the benefits for the wider economy, and the draft information on this year's scheme can be viewed here.

At a time when professional qualifications for many jobs in road haulage are mandatory, the freight forwarder still has the ability to simply set up shop with little or no experience. This however is rapidly changing and the generation entering the industry will shortly have the ability to prove the competence after BIFA, which has supported a trailblazer group of employers from the freight and logistics sector, saw the cooperative effort given the green light by the UK Department for Education to develop a standard for a specific International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship.

Although final approval for the course assessment plan is awaited from the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the standard for the scheme has been approved. When the former has been approved, the apprenticeship will be available for delivery. Set at Level 3 (A Level) with a minimum duration of 18 months, the new apprenticeship will provide students with core knowledge and skills including; industry awareness, customs procedures and commercial.

At the beginning of the programme, apprentices will also be given one of three pathways; air freight, ocean freight or road freight, to reflect the focus of BIFA members' operations. Whichever pathway apprentices take, specific knowledge and skills will be acquired in addition to the three mandatory modules. Carl Hobbis, BIFA's training development manager, says:

“The new apprenticeship landscape can be a minefield and our members have asked for advice on how to start the process, from planning to recruitment and even attending local careers fairs. We have listened to their comments and have now begun working on some exciting new ideas to support BIFA Members and promote the new freight forwarding apprenticeship and the logistics industry as a whole.

“The timing of the National Apprenticeship Week could not be better and we intend to be actively involved. Throughout next week we will be taking to social media to share useful tips and advice with employers and employees who are interested in learning more about apprenticeships. “From the start, the trailblazer group was unanimous in recognising the importance of a relevant apprenticeship in the forwarding sector for two main reasons: a lot of knowledge is leaving the industry, plus the uncertain Customs landscape post-Brexit.

“Many people within the freight forwarding sector started as a trainee, or apprentice, and recognise the value these schemes provide for all parties. To showcase and encourage take-up of the International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, BIFA is urging employers and apprentices to work together and celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to get into our industry via this route.

“We are encouraging BIFA members to play their part and promote forwarding as an interesting and exciting career. We hope that they will offer work experience opportunities and get involved with local schools and colleges, targeting influencers such as teachers and parents, and promoting the business at the same time.”