Tag: Firedog Research

The Transport Select Committee review of the LGV Driver Shortage

ImageVaultHandler.aspxI was thrilled to hear that the LGV driver shortage is to be considered by the Select Committee.

I have written extensively on the subject in the past as well as the potential solutions that might be considered. In this piece, I do not intend to cover old ground, not do I intend to offer advice in areas where others are better placed to give advice. Certainly I would expect unions to talk about the pay and conditions in the occupation. In the UK we clearly have rest facilities which compare badly to those on the continent. Likewise, I expect there to be comment made by the Trade Associations and Training Providers. I expect that they will offer clear perspective on what life is like in the real world.

Instead, let me offer comment on the area where I feel potentially uniquely placed.

Let me begin with a question.

Which government department is responsible for addressing the LGV driver shortage?

The Department of Transport is full of high quality individuals who work hard to understand the freight sector. You would assume that they are the key government department in this debate. But actually; remit, funding and decisions on this issue belongs to the department for Business Innovation and Skills.

This is obviously something that needs to be addressed. We may well decide that the number one issue in the freight sector is a lack of qualified drivers. It might be decided that something absolutely has to be done. However; and I have experience of this, just because it is the number one priority to the DfT does not mean that it even makes it into the top ten at BIS.

Picture the scene. We make a compelling argument to DfT that we have a challenge in the freight sector and we need government help to fix it. They are convinced. Therefore they take the issue to BIS and raise their concerns. But at BIS the issue of funding driving skills or solutions which will solve the problem, competes with claims from those seeking funding for doctors, nurses, engineers, IT coders etc.

How often do you think that LGV drivers will win in that face-off?

Of course, you may think that this is consequently the case across government. No, it isn’t. Other sectors with ostensible ‘host’ departments receive far more support both in terms of advocacy and indeed funding from their host departments. For instance, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs supports the skills development of workers in its sector. The Department of Health likewise.

In my time running the Sector Skills Council for the freight sector we did not receive a single penny from the DfT. Some of our work was referred to in DfT publications, but not a single pound came from the Department for Transport.

So my call to the Select Committee is simple. When you reflect on the driver shortage and possible solutions, please recognise that the skills of the sector in general is an issue that all too often falls between the cracks of government. Make it the explicit responsibility of the DfT. Of course, we all know that money is tight but by making the DfT responsible they will have to consider where it fits in terms of their priorities and act accordingly. If they don’t act, we will clearly see how they view the LGV driver.

Of course, we also need to remember that both Skills and Transport are devolved policy areas.

Please let’s get consistency across the UK!

Dr Ross Moloney
Managing Director
FireDog Research


FireDog presents Leicestershire logistics research findings with Lord Baker of The Baker Dearing Educational Trust

FireDog Baker Dearing Research

FireDog publishes Logistics Sector Research for Lord Baker and the Baker Dearing Educational Trust in the LLEP/ Leicestershire Region.

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.

FireDog Research_Lord Baker_Baker Dearing Educational Trust

FireDog Research Managing Director, Dr Ross Moloney meets Lord Baker of The Baker Educational Trust

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 rhys@firedogresearch.com for a copy.

To find out more about FireDog Research and the work that we do, email rhys@firedogresearch.com


FireDog visits the World Wildlife Fund at the Living Planet Centre

WWF_Living Planet Centre_01World Wildlife Fund_01

FireDog Research were invited into one of the most inspirational, state-of-the-art work space the team have probably ever visited today.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have created an amazing building in Woking that shows it is possible for people to live in harmony with nature. Smart eco-design, underground heat pumps, advanced technology and trees in the main work and breakout area makes this place an awesome place to work.

With environmental impact top of the agenda, when the team signed in at reception, we were invited to add our office postcode and mode of transport so the WWF team can assess the carbon footprint of our journey to the meeting.

Made us think that next time we should take the train and walk the last bit to the Living Planet Centre (we  also liked the pandas display…).