According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders forecast, Britain's OEMs will break records within the next three years, producing over 2m vehicles per annum. But success brings problems, too - most notably in logistics.
Eighty per cent of production parts are already made in Britain and the domestic supply chain is earmarked for more growth, to shield OEMs from global issues such as bad weather. At the same time, the need to plan the most optimum routes for both parts and finished vehicles and to package consignments in the most efficient way become increasingly important requirements as fuel prices continue to take their toll on the already low logistics margins. More trained drivers are also needed, particularly to handle the large trailers filled with finished vehicles.
Unfortunately, the skills needed to develop and maintain efficient supply chains are not always available - and are in danger of disappearing with the retirement of an aging workforce. Skills for Logistics, the Sector Skills Council for the UK's freight logistics industries, has set out to meet this skills demand by taking a number of measures to ensure employers have suitably trained people available.
Just under £4m is being provided by the government over a two year period, from April 2012 - March 2014, to develop or expand a logistics guild, a 'competency stairway', a National Skills Academy, and a series of Occupational Craft Skills Groups.
"The logistics guild will offer all employees a chance to improve their professional development," explains Dr Mick Jackson, CEO of Skills for Logistics. "It will provide a framework to allow individuals to identify what jobs and career paths are available in logistics and the skills they need for those jobs and careers, helped by the competency stairway."
The competency stairway lists concrete steps people can take in order to reach their goals. For example, if someone wants to become a warehouse manager in the automotive sector, it will set out the skills required for that job, including things like sequencing and kitting, but also the career progression, listing each role that the individual needs to be familiar with - e.g. forklift driver, order picker, etc.
The National Skills Academy is establishing a national curriculum that will ensure people wishing to work in logistics have consistent, high quality training. All training companies meeting the Academy's criteria will be accredited, so that students know they are receiving the right skills and employers feel confident that their new recruits have the right knowledge for the job.
Occupational Craft Skills Groups will set out the training requirements in more detail, looking at driving, fleet management, international trade, supply chain operations, terminal operation, logistics operations, warehousing and wholesale distribution. More importantly, these Occupational Craft Skills Groups will align the skills requirements to particular vertical sectors, such as automotive, so that employers can recruit logistics professionals with skills relevant to their business.
Skills for Logistics also plans to identify the employment needs of logistics 'clusters' - usually around ports, airports and motorways or, in the case of automotive, near to the main manufacturing centres - and then go out into schools and colleges to tell students what logistics is, what jobs are available and what benefits they might gain from a career in logistics.