The UK’s Logistics Sector is actively seeking men and women leaving the armed forces to swell its ranks. Importantly, it is providing the bridge from military to civilian life. Jack Rickard, Programme Manager at Skills for Logistics (and ex-RN Logistics Officer), explains…

There are two things that concern you as a Service leaver. First is “how do I translate my military experience into civvy-speak” and second is “how do I convince a civilian company to take a chance at employing me”.

That is why I found the Skills for Logistics (SfL) approach to this so compelling when I left the RN 3 months ago. As the public sector funded, Sector Skills Council for the logistics industry, SfL talks to the vast majority of the industry, and does it from an impartial position. But it also has an armoury of creative, innovative ideas to actually do something about the key industry issues. For instance, realising that the industry can only continue to add to the UK’s recovery by bringing quality people into the industry, SfL has already established schemes to fund companies to provide nearly 1000 work placements over the next 9 months.

In addition SfL has also been forward leaning in opening the eyes of companies who are committed to creating job vacancies within SfL’s “stepping stones” programme for military leavers.

The Logistics Sector is vital to UK plc. Worth £74.45bn to the economy, there are approximately 200,000 logistics employers in the UK employing some 2.4 million people – that’s 1 in 12 of the UK workforce. However, a number of emerging factors mean that within the UK’s recovering economy, a further 500,000 more must be recruited over the next 4 years simply for the sector to stand still. This offers enormous potential to career loggies and those seeking a challenging and stimulating career with potential to cut across all mainstream industries.

All sectors of the logistics industry face similar issues where a lack of motivated, qualified people will restrict recovery as even the most impressive logistics organisations struggle to recruit. It is quite natural that the sector should turn to the armed forces, given the latter’s dexterity in supplying front line units in the most arduous of circumstances, that essentially laid the foundations for the modern logistics industry.

At Skills for Logistics we can give service leavers the chance to translate their military experience into civilian language and to provide the bridge to civilian employment through our modern Logistics Guild, a free-to-join member network, run by its members for its members; to share ideas, offer support, guidance, development and jobs; and where there are no qualifications for joining and no fee.

Translating your skills

The Guild houses SfL’s Professional Development Stairway (PDS), which allows an individual to match their skills, qualifications and job roles to agreed national job standards across the industry. It allows you to see where you are in your career. Moreover it allows you to see directions you can take and the skills/experience combination that employers are looking for. All of this information is underwritten by SfL’s industry remit for National Occupation Standards for all jobs across the logistics functions. And, if you are not yet in logistics then it allows you to see very clearly what those qualifications and skills are and where you can get those skills.

Stepping stones to jobs

This skills arsenal would be good on its own, but it’s SfL’s wide network which allows the service leaver to get real progress. Our impartial and dual fronted approach to developing the staff in the industry and attracting new talent into it means we work daily, through a team of seven Implementation Specialists across the entire UK, with organisations/employers reaching all angles of the entire logistics functions.

We are already working with a UK-wide manufacturer with an enormous logistics function looking to recruit over 200 drivers over the next 2 years. We have also established positions across the full range of logistics functions with the majority of logistics organisations and also market leaders within the UK Third Party Logistics market. Opportunities include entry, supervisor and management level Stock & Inventory Managers, Warehouse Managers, Transport Managers, Supply Chain, Traffic and strategic/operational logistics.

The Guild – run for logisticians by logisticians

As well as the translation and stepping stones, there’s the Guild’s fraternity that will give you a career-long network for your personal development. Each member has an online locker space in which your skills, experience, jobs, training and activities will be held. Essentially, the Guild aligns the member with skill sets, a road map for development and the job that matches that talent.

By joining the Guild you will be demonstrating a self-awareness and willingness to grow, which employers value. The PDS works two-ways and gives employers an accessible toolkit for their recruitment. At each defined job role an employer can post the number of people it needs at the various levels. In a sector as diverse as logistics, the ability to match jobs to people in a systematic, objective way has great value for employers looking to recruit from new talent pools, such as the Services.

Financial benefits – you and your family

Once you have your career sorted, Guild members also benefit from the other two elements of the Guild’s offer. The first is the logistics Credit Union and banking service. This member-owned, financial cooperative will provide ethical banking services, competitive financial products and real support for member development. The operating model for the Credit Union sees Guild members getting access to banking facilities at rates below high street banks and no longer exposed to high interest rates charged by some providers.

From these services the Guild will provide loans to the owner-members and enable the provision of a bursary system that will allow individuals to fund further training needs and also transfer those to wives, and children.

The second strand comes because the Guild has attracted the attention of service companies who want to offer savings on insurance and household costs, such as school uniforms, family days out, cinema reductions, store cards, restaurant savings and petrol cards.

The beauty of the Guild is its member-ownership. No other organisation is providing for the logistics industry and allowing logisticians to own and deliver it. Civilian employment and life might be different to the Service world but the qualities inherent in the military such as teamwork, diligence, loyalty, sense of duty and presentation are highly valued. If you want a job, we have a job for you, if you want a career; we have a career for you in Logistics.

Jack Rickard MBE joined Skills for Logistics as Programme Manager from the military, where he was Officer Commanding, Command Training Squadron at the Defence Maritime Logistics School. He previously saw operational tours in both surface and submarine platforms as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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About Skills for Logistics

Skills for Logistics (SfL) is the Skills Sector Council (SSC) for the freight logistics and wholesaling sector (The Logistics Sector). SfL works alongside companies in the UK that are involved in moving, handling, storing and wholesale of goods. SfL is licensed by Government to tackle the skills and productivity needs of employers in the logistics and supply chain sector.

The UK Logistics Sector is worth £74.45bn to the economy and the 196,000 companies operating in the sector employ one in twelve of all the working people in the UK. Established in 2003, SfL’s mission is to enable employers in the logistics sector to gain competitive advantage by developing workforce skills. It also aims to deliver a more productive and efficient low carbon UK Logistics Sector, enhancing UK
competitiveness in the global marketplace.

SfL’s ambition is to “open the doors so that logistics skills potential can be released, enabling people and organisations to do amazing things”. This drives SfL’s vision “to deliver the best skilled workforce in the world”.