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
Tweet or Email us – we’d love to hear from you!

IFA Transport and Logistics Route Panel.

David Coombes: Managing Director of Skills for Logistics

The Route Panel is a carefully selected team of sector specialists with the occupational experience and capability to review and advise on new Apprenticeship Standards, assessment plans and funding levels. Together, we are the employer voice of the Transport and Logistics sector, bringing our expertise and knowledge to the work of the Institute.

Working with the Institute, its board and committees, the Panel supports the creation of new apprenticeship opportunities and promotes occupations in transport and logistics – addressing the challenges and identifying both current and future skills gaps. It’s really about the flow of accurate, specialist information. We represent the needs of employers and ensure Apprenticeship Standards are fit for purpose. Meeting the needs of employers and being clear, accessible, affordable and achievable for apprentices, training providers and End-Point Assessors (EPA).

We take this responsibility very seriously at Skills for Logistics (SFL). If the logistics industry is to rise to the endemic recruitment and retention challenges, it needs top quality apprentices.  We have in-depth knowledge of the industry, working closely at the coal face of recruitment, training and skill issues. We therefore have a comprehensive understanding of skills and training which should be made available to the logistics industry.

Personally, this is an opportunity for me to give something back to an industry that has supported me throughout my career. I’m passionate about the skills agenda – so being part of the Institute for Apprenticeships allows me to take responsibility and truly promote and increase opportunities in logistics for the next generation.

If you’d like to get in touch to discuss any thoughts, ideas or concerns you have about apprenticeship standards or the levy then please get in touch. It would be great to hear from you.
@Davidcoombessfl @Skill_Logistics
David Coombes 25th February

Apprenticeship fees halve for small businesses

David Coombes: Managing Director of Skills for Logistics

If you weren’t already aware, on Monday 29th October, the Treasury announced that the 10% fee small businesses must pay when taking on apprentices will be halved. The news was received positively by the logistics sector. I spoke to our Managing Director, David Coombes, to get his thoughts on the news.

What impact do you think this reduction in fees will have on apprenticeships?

Firstly, we are delighted that the chancellor has chosen to reduce the cost of apprenticeship training for non-levy payers, with the government now committing to paying a contribution of 95% of the apprenticeship fee and the employer paying the remaining 5%. This is a major and positive shift which the industry has been pushing hard for since the levy has been introduced. This should enable training providers to work closely with smaller businesses to increase the number of apprenticeships on offer.

What impact will this have for the logistics sector?

Well, we have seen less than 10% of logistics businesses take on apprentices since the levy was introduced, it’s certainly going to encourage non-levy payers to start thinking about the real value they can gain from apprenticeships. I’m sure there will be a big change in encouraging smaller business to take on apprentices now.

What are your thoughts on the Treasury backtracking on the start date for the apprenticeship fee cut which was set to be April 2019?

I don’t understand why this has happened, the change should really be made at the start of a new financial year. April 2019 is the best possible time and with that being the mark of two years into the levy, it sends the right message. By talking about the reduction and subsequently not giving an actual date of when this will take effect, it sends mixed messages. Spreading uncertainty in this way is bad for development.

Do you think a consequence of a rumoured later start would incentivise employers to delay their apprenticeship recruitment?

By April 2019 it will be two years since the levy started. The incentive is very much to use up the pot before the end of the two years. Providing it isn’t later than the new financial year, I’m hopeful it won’t have a major impact.

As you’ve mentioned, by April 2019, it’ll be two years since the levy came into effect, do you think that this is too soon to make changes whilst it’s still very much in its infancy?

That’s been a large part of the argument to not make the change, but actually I think two years is within a good time frame. We can’t wait any longer for this change, otherwise, all the government’s targets will be missed, and the opportunity will pass. We’ve seen the slow take-up – there needs to be other incentives to improve apprenticeship starts.

What else do you think the government could be doing to incentivise people to be taking up the apprenticeships?

The apprenticeship levy is a blunt tool. Within the pot, there should be a budget for attraction or the option to spend on advice and support as there is still a lot of confusion around what the best apprenticeships are for different businesses.

Any other thoughts?

I think in the current economic climate, any additional cost to businesses is tough, but the value an organisation receives from well-trained employees can be a life-saver. It reduces staff turnover and increases productivity, meaning less waste and an improvement in job efficiency.

It was great to hear David’s thoughts, but what about you? We’d love to hear your views on this. What does this reduction in fee mean for you? Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to have a chat – Email or Tweet us now!

5th November 2018