David Coombes

Welcome to the first of my columns giving you what will be a ‘hands on’ and coalface perspective of the recruitment and talent issues facing all employers in our industry today.

I want to start by discussing skills shortages; the current and growing issue of 150,000 LGV drivers that are needed to drive future economic growth.

In my view we have to start with young people and how we get them excited about a career in the logistics industry. To attract the right calibre of young people we need to change the image of the logistics sector and promote opportunities with career progression to build a sustainable workforce model.

In my role as distribution sector chairman for the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) I am hugely concerned to see that few if any of the 160 schools and colleges in the region actively promote the logistics industry as a positive career choice.

Many of these organisations lack a detailed understanding of the apprenticeship pathways in logistics available to young people. The removal of the Connexions Careers Advice on a national basis has only compounded the problem. The young drivers that I meet and talk to are often in the profession because they have followed family members; they have not made an informed decision based upon any professional pathway or through proactive careers advice.

I recently presented to a large number of Job Centre Plus managers at a careers fair. All of them were unaware of the size of and the career potential that the logistics industry can offer our young people. It seems employers have a role here to inform these organisations.

It is crucial that young people (and their parents) get the right careers advice about vocational training and that they understand that apprenticeships are regarded as an option within full time education. If there is a lack of impartial and reliable information for young people about careers in logistics maybe this is something that as employers we should do.

The government strategy for funding apprenticeships is loaded towards the 16-18 age group and funding reduces dramatically upon reaching 19. There is an irony here that the funding reduces at the age when young people will begin work in logistics. The Government is reviewing apprenticeships and has placed employers at the heart of the reforms. As employers we need to get involved in development to drive the changes we need. Who else will lobby the government to encourage positive action to take unemployed people between the ages of 19 and 24 through fully funded development pathways?

We need to get our young people off benefits and into the cabs of our commercial vehicles. Don’t you agree?

David Coombes, MD, Logistics Job Shop



Tel 0117 9859 119