FireDog Research completes a study into the skills needs of the Logistics Sector in Leicestershire and the case for a University Technical College.
The FireDog Research report presented by FireDog Managing Director Dr Ross Moloney at an event in Magna Park attended by Lord Baker and key logistics employers and stakeholders from the Leicestershire and LLEP, finds local young people are making decisions about qualifications with a skewed view of the career paths available and little awareness of the logistics jobs market ahead of them.
The report, undertaken by FireDog Research and commissioned by Baker Dearing Educational Trust, identified that despite projected rapid growth in the logistics sector there is an intrinsic lack of young talent being attracted to join it. This can be attributed to the outdated perceptions of young people and their parents that logistics is a low-skilled industry associated with cold, dirty warehouses. Local employers say the reality is quite the opposite and perceptions haven’t evolved in line with changes.
There is also a general lack of awareness of the diversity of the roles and career paths available in the logistics sector, including apprenticeships. The responsibility of careers advice in England shifted to schools in 2012 but there are concerns about the quality and impartiality of this approach. The report recommended that the labour market requirements of the local area need to be better understood and communicated to young people.
Presenting the findings at an event staged at Magna Park in Lutterworth – the UK and Europe’s largest dedicated distribution and logistics park – report co-author and FireDog Managing Director, Dr. Ross Moloney, said:
“FireDog’s research found the aging profile of workers in logistics is a real concern for businesses and creates an urgent need for employers to engage with schools in a new way. Employers agree that they must consider a range of education models including University Technical Colleges to meet skills gaps”.
Leicestershire sits in an unrivalled geographic position and is home to a thriving economy worth over £20bn and providing 487,000 jobs to the local/national economy. Nearly 35,000 businesses have premises in the region, known as the so-called “Logistics golden triangle” due to its unrivalled location. The logistics sector directly employs over 46,000 people (one in ten across the area) making it the area’s third largest employer.
Lord Baker, Chair of Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity behind UTCs, said:
“It is essential that young people have a good understanding of the opportunities available to them and the skills requirements of the local labour market are communicated to them so they are well prepared and make good decisions about their pathways to join the world of work. Developing and nurturing an ambitious future workforce will directly contribute to the success of our economy. University Technical Colleges are playing an important role in helping to train the next generation with the skills local businesses need. We look forward to receiving applications for UTCs from groups across the region.”
Employers who took part in interviews for the report argued that the sector was becoming more technical and more than half of them said they do not believe that new recruits have the necessary technical skills for the 21st Century sector.
Rachel North, Logistics School of Excellence Co-ordinator at Office Depot, said:
“Young people do not understand what logistics entails and still consider it to be ‘trucks and warehouses’ so they do not apply for positions and we lose out on the talent they represent. More employers value work experience than academic or vocational qualifications so there are job opportunities at many different levels”.
As technology advances the skills required are changing to meet them. Advanced automation, software systems and high tech advances in warehousing and tracking systems means IT skills are now essential. There are also roles that require high-level expertise in applied mathematics and statistics for analysing data and to collate and interpret technical reports. Programmers, software engineers and data analysts are now required in the logistics sector to meet the demand for online consumer facing technical systems.
Read the full report here. A slide deck of the FireDog Research Presentation is also available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
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