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  May 12th, 2024 | Written by

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

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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.  

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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.”