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The Apprenticeship: Why It’s Never Too Late To Invest In Knowledge And Skills

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The Apprenticeship: Why It’s Never Too Late To Invest In Knowledge And Skills

As thousands of young people start on their career paths at university or on apprenticeships, one logistics employer is demonstrating the value of apprenticeships to provide new skills and opportunities to workers of all ages.  

Read also: Implementing AI in Workforce Training Techniques

At Good Logistics, Learning and Development Advisor Sarah Coates is developing an apprenticeships program which embodies the company’s ethos of valuing its people, providing continuous learning opportunities and planning ahead for its future. 

“Apprenticeships are an opportunity for everyone. and we fully support the learning and development of our employees,” she said. “Our philosophy is not to relate to an individual’s age; it is about their attitude and willingness to learn.” 

Working with skills specialist Seetec Outsource, Coates is keen to promote the logistics industry as a great career for people of all ages. At a time when latest government figures show record levels of people aged 65 and over in employment, Coates believes the investment in upskilling will aid retention and increase employees’ confidence to carry out their job roles.  

Two employees in their thirties who have embarked on international freight forwarding apprenticeships are proof of the value of this approach. Recruited from a customer services background, Kelly admits she “fell into logistics.” After originally planning to study at university, she realized it wasn’t the route for her and, by chance, ended up working for a major export company. 

When she joined Good Logistics with several years’ experience in logistics, she stressed her desire for further training and upskilling, and Coates invited her to start the apprenticeship–cautioning it would take hard work and commitment but adding it was a great opportunity.  

“I felt the company was investing in my future,” Kelly explained. “It’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are for school leavers. Apprenticeships are a great way to extend your knowledge.  

“I’ve found my apprenticeship really reinforcing, I’ve got knowledge of the industry but it’s great to understand why we do what we do, rather than just doing it. What I like about my job is that every day is different, you’ve got to be on the ball and aware of what can happen. 

“I’ve broadened my experience and knowledge and gained greater confidence, it’s a great foundation and gives me a qualification to demonstrate my knowledge. It provides an opportunity to progress to different roles. Good Logistics is a great company to work for, and I believe there will be career progression with them.” 

Michael joined Good Logistics after losing his job as an export administrator at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and working through the pandemic in a care role for a county council. 

He jumped at the chance to start the international freight forwarding apprenticeship to further develop his skills. “I wanted to gain more knowledge. I’m relatively new to the industry and want to understand the bigger picture. 

“It’s an investment by the company in my knowledge. It was hard to go back to studying and adapt to the way of learning, but I am surrounded by supportive people,” he explained. 

“It is giving me the opportunity to gain professional qualifications, I’ve already achieved my BTEC in Customs Procedures, and, once I complete the apprenticeship, I have no doubt it will open the door to new opportunities and inspire confidence from my colleagues. I like to be reliable and to be able to help people. 

“I don’t let anyone joke about me doing an apprenticeship, I get in first and say I need time to do my homework. I like what I do, I like to understand where I fit and how others fit into the bigger picture.” 

Coates is delighted the apprentices have embraced the culture of learning and self-development, that Good Logistics has set out to create. “Both Michael and Kelly have demonstrated great improvement and have grown in confidence, their managers are really impressed with them.

“Michael is going from strength to strength developing his knowledge about customs, gaining a distinction in his BTEC. Kelly has been brilliant, she’s determined, ambitious and very proactive.” 

Coates praised the service offered by Seetec Outsource and is looking to expand the program by offering leadership and management apprenticeships. 

Seetec Outsource works closely with the British International Freight Association. Midway through National Apprenticeship Week in February 2023, BIFA repeated a call for freight forwarding and logistics companies to consider recruiting apprentices.

“It is vital to continue to recruit freight forwarding apprentices and build capacity to start equipping a new generation with the knowledge and skills to face the challenges ahead in the post Brexit and post COVID-19 world,” says BIFA executive director Carl Hobbis, who has responsibility for the trade association’s training and development program.

“We are at an important crossroads and we must protect the future of the sector as we meet the changing supply chain management demands that have resulted from the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU,” Hobbis added.

He says that the International Freight Forwarding Specialist Apprenticeship, which BIFA helped create in 2018, is an ideal entry point for the industry with more than 800 apprentices already having taken the pathway, with great success.

BIFA also practices what it preaches, having last year recruited Brooke Neilson as its first apprentice. Brooke, who is studying to complete the PR and Communications apprenticeship standard is making excellent progress and already adding value and supporting the future direction of BIFA’s member communications.

“Now, more than ever, we need to promote the industry and give young people employment opportunities,” Hobbis says. “We have had an apprenticeship standard for international freight forwarding for five years and the sector has been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a career in forwarding.”

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Why Teaching Employees Your Company Financials Is A Winning Formula

In many businesses, a wide gulf exists between ownership and the workforce, a disconnect that can leave employees feeling undervalued and wanting to leave.
The high cost of replacing them means it’s important to find ways to retain the best performers, and studies show that transparency and education from the top can be a solution, boosting employee engagement and motivation.
And one way to achieve that transparency is to open the company’s financial books to employees and teach them the business, says Rich Armstrong (www.greatgame.com), a business coach, president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and co-author with Steve Baker of GET IN THE GAME: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change.
“Too often in business, we fail to show the players on our own team the big picture – the overall score of the game,” Armstrong says. “We tend to try to manage from the sidelines, focusing on individual performance. Why not teach them what winning means in business?
“But opening the books may be the first time in the employees’ lives they feel they’re being treated as adults. This type of financial transparency builds trust and mutual respect. Teaching employees the business involves them in making a difference, so as a business leader, you need to get comfortable with opening things up.”
Many business owners are hesitant to open the books to their employees. One of their concerns is giving employees access to salary information, but that isn’t advisable, says Baker, who is vice president of The Great Game of Business.
“Opening your books does not mean sharing every detail,” Baker says. “On the other hand, if people see how much the company is making and that makes them want more, that’s what you want as a business owner.”
Armstrong and Baker break down how to open the books for employees and the benefits of doing so:
Bridge the gap between perception and reality. The perception among employees that the owner is focused on self wealth can be changed, Armstrong says, by teaching employees how hard it is for most companies to make money. “Many people would be surprised to know how little even large companies make in profit from every dollar of sales,” Armstrong says. “Research shows the median bottom line in companies in 212 industries across the U.S. is 6.5 cents on every dollar of sales. But the average employee thinks their company makes six times that.”
Break it down for them. “Once you show your team how hard it is to make money, sketch out a simplified income statement for your business, showing your revenue streams and all your expenses,” Baker says. “Draw a dollar bill and show them how little the company keeps out of every dollar.”
Bring the marketplace to your people. An owner can provide clearer perspective to the employees by sharing how and what other companies in the industry are doing. “Do your homework,” Armstrong says, “and find out about your competition. If your employees know how they stack up against the field, most will respond to your appeal to move the needle. Your transparency has made them feel valued.”
Make teaching financials interesting. “The strategy is to create a business of business people,” Baker says. “But remember, you’re trying to educate your people about your business, not create a bunch of CPAs. Share, teach and involve them in the numbers they can impact. Your people rarely need to know about debits and credits or how to do an adjusting entry. But they may very well need to know how production efficiency is calculated and why receivable days matter.
Teaching the business helps everybody begin to understand what they can do, both individually and as a team, to influence bottom-line financial results.”
“The purpose of opening the books is to boost the employees’ confidence in understanding the numbers and in the company itself,” Armstrong says. “Then and only then will they begin to make a connection to the numbers that measure their performance and talk intelligently about improving the business.”
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Rich Armstrong (www.greatgame.com) is the president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and co-author, with Steve Baker, of GET IN THE GAME: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change. This book is the how-to application of Jack Stack’s 1992 bestseller, The Great Game of Business. Armstrong and Baker co-authored the update of Stack’s book in The Great Game of Business – 20th Anniversary Edition. Armstrong has nearly 30 years of experience in improving business performance and employee engagement through the practice of open-book management and employee ownership. He serves as a business coach and senior executive at SRC Holdings Corporation, one of America’s top 100 largest majority employee-owned companies. He’s also a board member for the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).
Steve Baker (www.greatgame.com) is the vice president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and is a top-rated, sought-after speaker and coach on the subjects of open-book management, strategy, and execution, leadership, and employee engagement. Baker is a career marketing and branding professional and an award-winning artist.