As I discussed last month there is hard evidence that apprenticeships help businesses become more effective. Let’s use this drive and influx in talent to raise our profile at the same time.

Most of my clients are telling me they are struggling to attract talent because of the poor perception and understanding of the sector particularly among the under 25s. The latest UKCES report (10.14) states that only 9% of the workforce in the logistics sector is under 25 and that the most commonly identified reason is the image of the sector. I was talking about our industry to some local school children recently and I would say that the vast majority of 14-19 year olds completely misunderstood the term ‘logistics’. And much more concerning - considered working in ‘logistics’ to be a job of last resort!

I ran through the recruitment and skills and the types of technology needed in our industry: IT skills, engineering and mechanical knowledge, data analysis skills, customer service and communication capability, planning and problem solving, contract management and compliance, etc. Suffice to say I left them open mouthed and that was nothing to do with my oratory skills!

Lets talk the language that young people understand - E commerce (online sales will grow by 17% in 2014), intelligent transport systems (real time date capture), and automated warehouses (2D barcodes and voice technology).

There is a lot of scope for employers to promote themselves to young people via apprenticeship schemes and the SFA (Skills Funding Agency) suggests it’s the message that needs to change. We need to make our industry more ‘sexy’ to young people and that, in time, will create the permanent state of recognition that we deserve. Funding is now available for level 4 and 5 qualifications to support companies to develop their management talent, we shouldn’t forget our existing talent.

Would all our employers be aware apprenticeships are available in all of the following:

• Commercial moving

• Driving goods vehicles

• Driving passenger vehicles

• Mail service and package distribution

• International trade and logistics

• Logistics operations management

• Traffic office

• Warehouse and storage

• Project management

• IT systems and networking

• Software and web

The Logistics Guild website is now live, a free to enter membership organisation made up of anybody that works in or is training to become part of the logistics industry in the UK. It will offer solutions to exactly what I have been discussing - attracting new talent, raising the level of skills, and establishing a pathway to a long career in logistics. It will provide access to a wide range of unrivalled apprenticeship resources and offer myriad training and development opportunities.

David Coombes

David Coombes, MD, Logistics Job Shop.

Author David Coombes has been in the transportation and logistics industry for over 28 years. He is the managing director of Logistics Job Shop.