Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, officially opened a new logistics training centre in Buxton recently to launch a new generation of logisticians in the High Peak area. Skills for Logistics CEO, Dr Ross Moloney, was among the industry leaders present who welcomed tailored vocational courses to meet the sector's skills demand.
Opening the Skillsbase Training Centre, a purpose built facility for job skills in home delivery, warehouse and transport driving, the minister together with constituency MP, Andrew Bingham, were greeted by a packed house of students and local employers.
The Skillsbase Training Centre, operated by Buxton and Leek College, part of the University of Derby, is an 18,000 square foot vocational teaching centre located in Harpur Hill Business Park. In June 2013, hundreds of students will get the opportunity to study towards vocational qualifications in subjects such as logistics, warehousing and storage.
McLoughlin said the facility was "impressive" and would help provide the skills that were needed. Bingham added that it was fantastic to have such a great facility in the High Peak.
Seminars at the event engaged big local employers from Lomas Distribution to Lafarge Tarmac, national players from Bibby Distribution, TNT and DHL all on hand.
In one of the four transport skills addresses for the day Dr Ross Moloney, CEO of Skills for Logistics (SfL) outlined a need for nearly half a million new workers in the sector by 2020. He told the transport employer seminar, where there was standing room only, that attracting people into the sector was SfL's priority - and that also means more young people, ex-military personnel and women into the industry. "Our other priorities are to develop their skills so they are work ready; provide support so they stay in the sector and also provide support to employers," he said.
"Skills are important to the economy, to business and to the individual, and the work that our sector does is vital to the country. The more skills a business has within its workforce, the more likely it is to survive and to thrive."
The packed seminar heard that training staff does not mean they will immediately go elsewhere. Dr Moloney pointed to research, which suggests that if you train staff, they will stay and you will benefit from that investment.
He reported that in 2012 the UK logistics sector was 10th best in the World Bank's list of top logistics performers but it is now 4th in the Logistics Performance Sector, behind Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, it is only 28th when it comes to investment in people. "Maybe the qualifications just haven't been right or maybe the apprenticeships haven't been right," he said.
Dr Moloney went on to address the specific challenges around an ageing workforce in the sector, the need to encourage young people into logistics and also the significant challenge posed by the Driver CPC qualifications. He warned of the potential problems of drivers failing to meet the September deadline in a country where approximately 60 per cent of everything moves by road.
The driver shortage was brought into sharp focus when Dr Moloney described how, in the West Midlands, there is one applicant for every 18 jobs. He pointed out that there were opportunities with the reduction of the armed forces where skilled logistics staff should be encouraged to move to the civilian sector.
Other speakers at the event included Paul Byrne for Bibby Distribution, local transport employer Richard Lomas, of Lomas Distribution and college boss Len Tildsley.
Guests and students were hands on with latest truck and warehouse kit, Briggs had state of the art Yale forklift trucks loading a Nelson Distribution trailer, its Mercedes tractor unit had electronic air spoilers to maximised efficiency and keep carbon footprint to a minimum.
David Higginbottom, and Mark Yates of Driver First Assist (DFA) hosted a key road safety event outlining the potential for DFA to reduce RTC fatalities by up to 46 per cent, the initiative has its geographic origins in the Buxton area.