Almost half the apprentices entering the logistics industry are over the age of 25, figures from research and marketing agency Firedog – the company led by former Skills for Logistics MD Ross Moloney – have revealed.

In the academic year 2013/14, said Firedog, 49% of apprentices entering the industry were over 25, with 33% aged 19 to 24 and 18% between 16 and 18 years old.

However, the number of over-25s has fallen since 2012/13, when 62% of apprentice starters fell into that age category.

The data was collected from research conducted by various sources, including the now defunct Skills for Logistics, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

The number of apprentices joining the industry aged 25 or more is significantly higher than the national average, which saw just 37% falling into that category in 2013/14.

Gwenn Winters, research director at Firedog, said this finding most likely reflected the fact that the average workforce age in logistics is higher than that of the UK as a whole.

“The sector employs a lower proportion of young people than on average,” she said. “Awareness and perception of the sector is considered to be a key barrier. Young people do not understand what logistics entails and are not fully aware of the roles involved. It is still considered to be ‘trucks and warehouses’, and employers frequently report this lack of awareness.”

But Colin Snape, HR manager at Nagel-Langdons, which is shortlisted in the Apprenticeship of the Year category at the Motor Transport Awards, and chairman of the Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme, disagreed with the findings. He told MT that in his experience younger apprentices have been the favoured age groups in the industry.

“All my apprentices are 17 to 19, and I wouldn’t take anything over that for an apprenticeship. And other people I know who have taken on apprentices have taken on younger people. They’re reluctant to take drivers because of the insurance issues, and that seems to be a stumbling block in the industry, but that doesn’t stop us from taking warehouse and office-based apprentices.”

Bringing in younger apprentices, he added, allows you to nurture them into exactly what a business needs. “I think that you can mould them to what you want when they’re younger. They don’t know anything else, so they become dedicated to what they do, as long as you look after them and mentor them and give them continued opportunities.”