I want to continue what I shared last month - the unexpected opportunities we may be able to tap into for the logistics industry through attracting workers aged 50+.

I was surprised to learn this trend continues even after the possibility of retirement, and in fact recent figures show that the number of over-65s in employment is rising by about 5,000 every month. This is a dynamic sector and the total in employment within this age bracket is now over 1.1 million.

Ros Altmann, the government’s older workers’ champion, has described the evidence that businesses clearly gain from older employees and that apprenticeships in particular helped update skills needed for the modern workplace.

As we reflect upon the skills we need in the commercial driving sector as well as other aspects of logistics, it is clear that safety, reliability and professionalism are valued. These skills can be found in mature drivers who bring their years of road experience to the demands of the job. In some industries it might be argued that age can be a barrier to learning new technology, but in reality this is often a misconception. Indeed in our sector, the life skills of older workers can be a great asset as we seek to make up the shortfall we currently face in logistics.

In addition to valuable skills, it may be surprising to consider that 50+ drivers of logistics apprenticeships may also bring the added value of staff retention to our companies. As Ros Altmann goes on to argue: “Some employers suggest that they welcome training older people as they tend to stay with the same employer longer than for younger ones.”

So not only may we find the skills we need already in place amongst more mature workers, as Altmann concludes: “An apprenticeship for people in their 50s or even 60s can mean better employment for years to come, rather than these workers finding they cannot get back to work or are laid off because they do not have the right skillset.”

As we think how to tailor apprenticeships for 50+ workers to the needs in the logistics sector, there’s no reason why we can’t build a blended approach that gives us a resilient and dynamic platform for the future.

Why shouldn’t we develop an apprenticeship-training programme for newly trained commercial drivers that match together 50+ drivers with younger applicants who are just embarking upon their careers? In this model we can add value to our training programmes through the added benefit of peer mentoring, and also convey the important principle that a career in logistics can indeed be a career for life. Surely this is a win-win?

Logistics Job Shop ID 2013

David Coombes is MD of Logistics Job Shop

Tel: 0117 9859 119