The Craft Skills Group for Mail & Packages, chaired by Carl Lomas MBE, Chair of the Institute of Couriers (IOC), held its first meeting recently, at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, London. This follows the recent launch by Skills for Logistics of the nine Occupational Craft Skills Groups established in association with the industry's trade associations.
At the meeting, the group considered up to date research on the structure of the industry and the demographics of the workforce. Members also assessed skills and training issues. Key issues to emerge include:
- The average age of individuals working in the industry is over 40, though staff retention is typically very good. Driver licence acquisition cost was one of the greatest constraints on attracting younger talent to the industry; insurance was a secondary issue to this. Given the average age of the current workforce, we need to identify ways to attract new talent and to ensure that the right training is accessible.
- It is important to establish that "couriers" are not only 'van drivers'; in fact couriers range from non-licence holding cyclists through to those using motorbike, small vans, large vans, 7.5 vans and trucks. In addition, the skillset required is broader than (van) driving. The group urged Skills for Logistics to take the broader view of "couriers" into account when developing qualifications for this important part of the industry.
The group also discussed challenges in the sector such as competitive pricing and client closing margins being too tight to achieve the required quality of service.
"The energetic and challenging discussions that took place during our first meeting provides great promise for the future of our sector," said Carl Lomas MBE, Chair of the Mail and Packages Craft Skills Group. "In addition to the group's senior members, a variety of further members are expected to bring broad representation from the widest possible footprint of our industry to deliver the necessary messages to government in terms of skills needs for the mail and packages sector and steps forward in best practice."
Ross Moloney, Director of Intelligence and Strategy at Skills for Logistics, added: "The steer provided by the Occupational Craft Skills Groups is critical in ensuring that the right training and skills products are in place for this industry. The group's commitment to support Skills for Logistics in developing and analysing labour market research will ensure that we are basing skills decisions on the most up to date evidence and best practice."