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Skills for Logistics Opinion Performance boost

Vicki Ball, programme manager at Skills for Logistics, talks about defi ning skills and improving performance in the warehouse sector.

The UK Logistics Sector can transform its performance

“Eventually there will be a set of standard, generic competences across all of the Warehousing functions”

through upskilling, giving the country a greater edge in an increasingly competitive world. But to achieve this the industry needs to develop innovative skills solutions, which will help logistics employers to get the best outcomes from their recruitment, manpower planning and staff development activities. This is why, with funding from the Employer Investment Fund (EIF), we at Skills for Logistics (SfL), the Sector Skills Council for Freight, Logistics and Wholesaling sector, are establishing an infrastructure comprising nine occupational craft skills groups to inform sector skills policies and shape solutions. These groups will address the following occupational skill areas: driving; fl eet management; international trade; logistics operations; mail and packages; supply chain management; terminal operations; warehousing; and wholesaling. The new groups will have a critical role to play in determining skills needs, initiating solutions and driving them forward.


This can best be achieved by having each craft group chaired by the relevant trade association or professional institute, so it is highly encouraging news that the Warehousing Group will be chaired by Roger Williams, CEO of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association.

Commenting on this role, Williams says: “The UKWA supports this move whole heartedly. In this important role we can help to identify the skills needs of the sector and act as the focus of discussions to drive skills issues forward as well as to analyse and identify trends. In addition to supporting Skills for Logistics, UKWA will take a lead on skills issues in our particular sector so it is an extremely positive initiative.” But to ensure these groups accurately refl ect employer demand, it is also vital that they are made up of real operators with ‘on-the-ground’ experience. UKWA is therefore issuing a call to arms for employers from the warehousing sector to become craft group members. “We will soon be inviting UKWA members to join the group and we are planning our fi rst meeting in September,” Williams adds. “We wish to gather representatives from all elements of our sector, which is one where skills needs vary enormously, depending on operation. There are also many new skills sets to consider such as those used in e-fulfi lment.” It will be good to see attendance at these groups from all types of Warehousing organisations, as Williams explains: “We are particularly keen to engage SMEs, which have been reluctant to develop skills for staff due to retention issues. We would like to encourage them to recognise the value of training and to work with us in identifying and developing training solutions

that work in the SME context.” The fi rst task for the

Warehousing craft group will be to identify the precise occupations that the skills group should focus on, for example: picking operatives, warehouse managers, etc. The group will then broadly defi ne any skills shortages or gaps that exist now – and how that might change in several years – and discuss the adequacies of existing qualifi cations and programmes.

Competencies for each individual job will be identifi ed. For example, a Goods-In clerk might have 10 essential competences, which will become the effective ‘gold standard’. Eventually there will be a set of standard, generic competences across all of the Warehousing functions that are determined by real operators, articulated and endorsed by the UKWA and will be accredited by SfL as the industry gold standard, which companies can then sign up to. We believe that this plan of action will provide the sector with a very clear indication of what ‘good’ looks like and a route to achieve that standard. This in turn will greatly benefi t the decision-making process for skills development.

I’ll leave the last words to Roger Williams: “This is a good initiative that will help Skills for Logistics to engage more closely with employers, and we are looking forward to playing our full part in it.” ■ Storage Handling Distribution August 2012 49

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