The silent sector cries out: apprenticeships must address the logistics skills gap

By Andy Connor, Managing Director of Hellmann

Worldwide Logistics UK

As we celebrate the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy with National Apprenticeship Week, the government’s intention to provide employment opportunities for the next generation is becoming clear. By beginning to address the skills gap through schemes in a range of industries, from healthcare and sales to construction and manufacturing, opportunities required by the younger generation are finally coming to the fore.

Going quietly under the radar, the logistics sector is likewise in need of skilled workers as the economy moves into the fast lane. However, the clandestine nature of our industry means only a small minority of school-leavers are considering a career in a sector that is yet to be thought of as aspirational.

At Hellmann, we take on a new team of apprentices every year. These budding logistics professionals work across a range of departments before finding a specialism and settling into a permanent role. This gives each apprentice a wider perspective of the company and highlights the diversity of roles in the industry. That’s not just to give us something to shout from the rooftops; we do it because it’s the right way to progress and build on our rich history, which spans over 140 years.

For the UK, a robust logistics network supported by skilled workers is an absolute must. If the economy is a car, logistics is the wheels. Without our crucial input, goods have no way of getting from A to B and ultimately, from investment to profit.

Logistics is changing, and with that change comes diversification. Technology, climate change and a complex international marketplace are demanding a new approach. As such, Hellmann is utilising industry insight to strategically invest in new channels and departments, ensuring long-term sustainable success. Apprenticeships are also beginning to diversify, moving away from the 16-18s only club and becoming accessible to people at any working age. It’s no surprise really, over a five-year spell, adult apprentices have the potential to boost their annual income by £10,000-£15,000 .

Skills in our sector need to be nurtured through on-going, on-the-job training, which at Hellmann, we believe enables our business to move forward seamlessly. However, to achieve this youth recruitment, logistics must step out of the shadows and be recognised as a progressive industry that intrinsically supports the wider economy.

National Apprenticeship Week falls from 9th to 13th March 2015.

For more information on Hellmann Worldwide Logistics please visit http://www.hellmann.net/ and to follow Hellmann on Twitter go to www.twitter.com/HellmannUK.