Tension between lower level and high-level apprenticeship training provision needs to be resolved.

As an end-point assessor our main focus is apprenticeships. The work we do is predicated on the advice and regulations laid out by the government. In many respects, these new apprenticeship standards, the levy, the shift in definitions, expectations and opportunities resemble one large experiment.

We, like many other in the education sector, are excited by the potential and are starting to see good numbers of apprentices go through end-point assessment.

We are also seeing businesses move past perceiving the Levy as merely an additional tax. Critically in our sector, logistics, we finally have a vocational training opportunity that could help resolve the skills crisis.

If you were not already aware, Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) drivers alone have an average age of 53 in the UK and, depending on who you listen to, hundreds of thousands of new recruits are needed to address shortages by 2024.

However, there are real issues affecting the viability of this experiment. Businesses are opting for higher level apprenticeships, which is resulting in an overspend of the apprenticeship budget. I’m sure there are many reasons contributing to this situation but here is what we’ve observed in our sector…

Read the full article here.

The Apprenticeship Levy – 2 years on.

The 6th April 2019 marked the 2 years anniversary of the apprenticeship levy coming into effect and I believe it has taken quite literally that amount of time for most employers and stakeholders to fully understand it.

Working with The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute), we can see the direct impact the new standards are having on employer behaviour and how apprenticeships are being embedded into workforce planning and talent pipelines. As Anne Milton highlighted, apprenticeships bring new blood into businesses, they promote local talent and upskill the existing workforce.

Going forward, there is still a lot to do, particularly with non-levy payers and entry level standards. I know the government want to see the Institute become much more transparent and to build more open and fluid relationships with employers, and the Institute to be viewed as facilitators rather than just a regulator.

I see my role at the Institute very much as an ambassador and certainly engaging as much as possible with employers and training providers – encouraging full usage of the levy pot. If not this route, then definitely to promote the opportunity to transfer 25% to connected businesses in oppose to losing it month by month.

10th April 2019 David Coombes

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Beyond just the logistics

We had the pleasure of meeting Martin Corner at the Automotive Logistics Summit, Martin is the Vice President of Supply Chain Management for Nissan Europe. We spoke about management effectiveness, specifically within the logistics sector and Martin was kind enough to do an interview with us here at Skills for Logistics to elaborate further.

How have you seen the logistics sector transform over your career?

The transformational use of analytics and forecasting have really optimised the supply chain end to end, it’s just at the beginnings for the automotive sector.

What are the changes you see for the future workforce of logistics and supply chain?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology will start to take over the administrative and data management side of the role.  Once this happens it will allow the supply chain team to become more focussed on business management. The future requirements of a supply chain professional will be influencing skills, communication, strategic business acumen and leadership.  It will be an opportunity for a new generation of supply chain professionals to develop a fulfilling career.

When we last spoke, we discussed the importance of empathy in management style, could you elaborate further?

In my opinion, respecting the strengths and style of the individual and giving them the encouragement to flourish and be the best version of themselves yields the best results.  Listening and giving people the space to define their own ideas and solutions, rather than prescribing your own ideas, drives motivation through teams and individuals.

How do you feel good management has influenced your career?

Hugely, when you have a manager who; trusts, respects, listens, supports, challenges constructively (crucial point) and adds value with suggestion and guidance, it makes a significant difference. Being given the space to go beyond your objectives and drive change is hugely motivating – the right line manager is crucial in making this happen.

What management paths do you think are available for the supply chain & logistics sector that maybe aren’t being utilised currently?

I think that people pursuing a career in this sector have an opportunity to grow their careers more than at any time in the past.  This could be towards more general business management and even board level roles due to the unique positioning of supply chain as a function, touching all parts of the business. Equally it could be as a technical supply chain specialist working on the new technologies that should help revolutionise the sector in the future.

What would you say the priority is for the Supply Chain & logistics sector to tackle first?

Look to the supply chain of the future and work backwards. Year on year efficiencies are great but the step change needed to really optimise data analytics/forecasting, AI, automation and robotics requires some ambition and planning.  We need to imagine what the world can look like in 10/20 years’ time and make a roadmap to get there as fast as possible. What will customers want and how will the technology we see coming help deliver this revolution?

Your final thoughts Martin?

For me supply chain is the most exciting part of the business to work in.  Anyone considering a career which gives both a specialism and a total business overview should look no further. It is a function which concurrently operates on both a short-term delivery and long-term strategic basis which is immensely satisfying from both an intellectual and motivational perspective.

It was a great opportunity to talk to Martin and hear his thoughts, but what about you? If you’ve got any insights you’d like to share on the supply chain and logistics industry and management then please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you – Tweet us!

If you’d like to connect with Martin on Linkedin, please do show that you have read this article in your request.

1st April 2019

Gamification – changing the way we learn.

Interface design is better than it’s ever been. Our capacity to create novel interactions and meaningful experiences within a digital space has revolutionised the way that we consume culture and it is changing the way we learn. When you consider how technology supported your learning as a child, from abacus to calculator, chalkboard to whiteboard, table to spreadsheet, education has always integrated technology to improve experience.

What is so revolutionary now is that 99% of us carry smartphones, which has led to a paradigm shift in interaction design. Borrowing from the lessons learnt over the last 40 years of video games, are new languages for contextualising and communicating information. Underneath the hood of many gamified apps are tried and tested mechanics polished through thousands of hours of user testing – play is a cornerstone in how humans learn about the world. From play-fighting to play-dates, we explore social, cultural, educational values through play and mobile technology can enhance and expand upon it.

At Skills for Logistics, our End-Point Assessment (EPA) portal has been built to include interactive videos, multimedia quizzes and a whole palette of tools for us to create novel, inspiring learning content. We wanted to create compelling content that is engaging for a wide range of learning styles, that can be accessed on any device, at anytime. It is so important to use every tool available to empower the next generation with the skills they need to rise to the challenges of today. Mobile gamification of education allows us to properly compete for the attention of our students in a noisy, chaotic world.

If you’re interested in our interactive End-Point Assessment portal and how it could help your apprentices achieve, then please do get in touch. Email or Tweet us!   

James Wheale 18th March 2019

How do you secure and retain the right talent?

We chaired a Think Tank at the Automotive Logistics UK Summit, on ‘recruiting and retaining the right talent’. Answering question from some of the sectors most influential and leading organisations, here are the highlights of what we discussed!

So firstly, how do you identify who the right talent is? You go through a rigorous recruitment process and still struggle to find the ideal candidate.

Easy (ish) -you need to build a profile of an ideal candidate from your existing model employees that you feel represent who you are and what you do well. Peer review is always a useful tool – although the interviewing process is usually completed at a more senior level, it would be beneficial to incorporate some of your model employees to participate at this stage. They’d act as a benchmark for exactly what you want, as well as being a useful tool in helping you to identify the skills, characteristics and behaviours you need to really do the job.

Suffering from an aging work force? What can you do to attract a younger audience?

Ask yourself where does the audience you want to attract reside? Utilising social media as an effective tool to engage with a younger audience is imperative. The retail industry for example targets a young audience specifically. H&M’s “place of possible” campaign video, mostly importantly, only released on YouTube. Using a platform’s targeted advertising to appear before videos watched by their target demographic. Target marketing at its best as far as we’re concerned!

How do we retain our talent though? It’s a common occurrence that people get the training and tick in the box on their CV they need and then leave – obviously this isn’t ideal.

Let’s face it; a competitive salary is always going to be a large contributing factor as to how employers obtain and retain employees, but the number of zeros on that payslip isn’t everything nowadays. Something that every employer wants to avoid in this situation is a wage war, which is completely understandable. Your work force is the forefront of your organisation, they are your brand ambassadors. You need them to be talking about how great their experience is with your company and to tell their compelling stories.

Ask your employees what they value in a job, in addition to the predictable salary comment, you’ll also generate discussion around what they would really appreciate. Offer people choice, do they need job security above anything else? Flexible working hours? Progression in the work place? Is their work environment making them happy? How you do business, your values and how you treat employees really matters, so delivering what your employees want from you in the most pragmatic way is important. Position yourself to show you care, this will mitigate the risk of people leaving the company or the boss. 

Incentivising the role – we asked TruckNet, the largest forum for truck drivers, what was their most used app. Netflix came out on top. Therefore, offering to pay for their Netflix account is a useful incentive, it is a tool that can be pulled on when they are on their breaks as an additional comfort – simple, but it shows you care.

If you’d like to discuss securing and retaining talent with us further, or you want to share your thoughts about a topic we haven’t covered here, please do get in contact. We’d love to hear form you!

11th March 2019

What do apprenticeships mean for us?

Happy Apprenticeship Week! It may seem unusual for an End-Point Assessment Organisation to want to talk about “what apprenticeships mean for them”, considering our interaction with apprentices is minimal in comparison to training providers and employers. However, we’d like to elaborate on how apprenticeships are the key to improving and supporting the logistics sector we care so much about!

The sector is undergoing unprecedented change globally and there are a number of challenges that lie ahead. With the talent pool diminishing, an over reliance on EU labour – not to mention the problems Brexit poses. The apprenticeship levy can act as a structured and incentivised toolkit for the sector. There has never been a more prominent time to upskill our workforce in a way employer’s actually need in order to help mitigate some of these issues. Apprenticeships offer the logistics industry a dynamic and lean way to plug the vital skills gap and present a rich and viable career path within a sector that still isn’t really acknowledged in its own right.

It’s not all about the sector specialist apprenticeships though. It’s evident that emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are making waves in the sector. It is these technologies that are modernising the sector, with the likes of self-driving vehicles and automated warehouses. The sector should be looking to the technology and engineering based apprenticeships to leverage across emerging talent and best practices that would be fundamentally sector agnostic.

How do we fit in?

Our mission is to raise awareness and promote career opportunities in the logistics, supply chain and distribution industries. We want to help build a pipeline of talented, subject matter experts to enter the sector and increase the attractiveness of careers within. We are working to achieve this through our interactive and immersive EPA portal that helps facilitate the apprentices learning experience. We’re also shouting proudly about the fantastic career opportunities the sector presents and utilising our consultancy expertise to work in a collaborative partnership with employers and training providers.

So it’s time to take action, invest in future talent, take on an apprentice! Not sure how to best utilise your levy pot? or which apprenticeship would best suit your organisations requirements? Talk to one of our customer focused team members for your very own innovative solution!

6th March 2019
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