Tag: Ross Moloney

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


Get real on Apprenticeships

Get real about Apprenticeships

A few people have been in touch over the past couple of weeks to ask me what is going on in the world of skills.

Good question! I’ve been asking myself the same question for some time now!

When I left the Sector Skills Council I wrote an article that was shared across the press where I pleaded with government to do a few things. Primary amongst my calls were:

  • Please don’t forget the Logistics Sector
  • Don’t turn Apprenticeships into a political football.

I’m afraid you could make an argument that the past two weeks have been evidence that my calls were roundly ignored.

Apprenticeship Levy and the Trailblazer Framework

This week we see a reminder of National Apprenticeship Week 2016 #NAW2016 that will run from 14-18 March 2016 set amid the current media narrative on the importance of Apprenticeships for the growth of the economy. I balance this with the announcement of the Apprenticeship levy coincided almost exactly with the rejection of the trailblazer framework, something studiously created by employers and real experts from the sector.

In the past I have been accused of failing to support Apprenticeships to the extent that a leader of a Sector Skills Council should have. Maybe those criticisms were right. But let me explain.

I believe in training…

  • Evidence shows it makes you a happier and healthier individual.
  • Data clearly shows it makes you a richer and more productive employer.
  • Skills make for a better economy, which in turn should have an effect on society.

I believe that vocational training is worth just as much as academic stuff. For too long we have thought highly of one and badly of the other. That makes no sense, either emotionally or after a review of the evidence.

Does this mean that I inevitably love Apprenticeships?

Well, I adore the principle. Learning on the job. Learning whilst employed. It’s clearly the best way. I mean it’s so obvious that I really don’t know how anyone can disagree.

However. I’ve never been completely convinced that the Apprenticeship offer has been right.

As well as believing in skills, to my core I believe that employers know their market better than civil servants or quango staffers. Anyone who has ever heard me speak will know that I consistently bang on about an ‘employer-led’ skills system. Give employers the power and they will frame useful, impactful solutions.

Are Apprenticeship rules getting in the way? Is it all too much hassle?

Too often, rules about Apprenticeship funding have got in the way. Whether it be about hours, or units, or core competencies. It’s been a mess. A system has been created which has seemingly forgotten the whole point, namely to help people become amazing at their jobs.

I talk to employers – and it’s true they are usually SMEs – and hear hellish stories about their Apprenticeship experience. The hassle factor has been too dramatic and too frequently heard. They want bite sized units just as much as big qualifications. Surely employers know best what they need now as well as in the future?

Training providers are already returning funding because they can’t fill their Apprenticeship quotas. What does this tell you? Can you predict will happen to government’s decree that we’re going to have 3 million more Apprenticeships?

The rejection of the recent trailblazer frameworks flies in the face of the above.

The budget clearly showed that we are seriously pushing for an increase in productivity (how else are you going to pay the living wage without inflationary pressures?). Skills brings productivity enhancements. Employers are going to have to pay more – so they will need a more productive workforce.

So let’s get real about skills. And let’s support those who have the expertise and the drive to lead the agenda

Dr Ross Moloney
Managing Director
FireDog Research

Good research isn’t just ticking a box. Good research changes lives.

Dr Ross MoloneyResearch should not be undertaken for research’s sake. It has to be robust and impactful and change lives. Research is not meant to tick a box, lie on a dusty shelf, prop open a door or be there for the kids to scribble on.

Dr Ross Moloney, Managing Director, FireDog Research