The skills gap – what is the Freight Transport Association doing?

The skills gap – what is the Freight Transport Association doing?

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is the UK’s biggest transport trade body, representing more than 16,000 members who move goods by road, rail, sea and air. Recruitment challenges in the sector have prompted the association to dedicate a member of its policy team to skills campaigning and to focus on apprenticeships and training in its commercial activities.

HGV driver shortage has been a problem for many years and, while the number has dropped from 60,000 at its peak to 35,000, the Brexit vote has added new concern that drivers from other European countries will opt to return home as Britain’s exit from the EU approaches.

In the UK, 12% of all logistics workers are from EU countries. For warehouse staff the figure is 25% so the status of EU workers once the UK leaves the union is a crucial industry issue.

The average age of the country’s lorry drivers – 47.7 years – is also a major concern and FTA is working with organisations including Think Logistics to engage with young people and raise awareness of the many opportunities on offer in the industry, not only in driving but warehousing, forklift operating and vehicle mechanics and technicians.

FTA was at this year’s Skills Show at Birmingham NEC and will take and at next year’s event to showcase logistics to its 100,000 visitors. The Association is also working to develop new logistics apprenticeships for all ages. Access to funding HGV licences via apprenticeships provides businesses with a real opportunity to start training the HGV drivers of the future.

FTA is also engaging with service leavers from the Ministry of Defence who already have industry-appropriate skills and may just need further qualifications such as Driver CPC to take up roles in the sector. The Association’s own training business is extremely diverse, providing courses endorsed by leading organisations such as City and Guilds and offering in-house and unsociable hours training.

Sally Gilson, FTA’s Head of Skills Campaigning, said: “It is up to FTA and the industry to highlight the careers that are available within logistics to the next generation. If you ask students about logistics, they might mention HGV driving but that’s about it. While driving is a vital role, there are so many other careers available. Technology has progressed, we will need many different skills in the future. Logistics is a fabulous sector if you’re looking for a progressive career.”

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