As National Apprenticeship week comes nears its end, the British International Freight Association has repeated its call for freight forwarding and logistics companies to consider recruiting apprentices.
An executive director of BIFA, Carl Hobbis said: “We know it’s a tough call, with the pandemic and the post transition period continuing to disrupt many freight forwarders’ operations.
“There has been a sharp decline in the number of individuals that have started their journey on the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship.
“Forwarding businesses have many difficult commercial decisions to make, but shelving apprenticeships should not be one of them.
“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.”
BIFA says that the fall in apprenticeships is not just a freight industry problem. Government statistics show a sharp decline in apprenticeship starts across the entire country. However, for the freight industry the issue is even more acute because of that huge upsurge in its workload both before and after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Hobbis, who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, adds: “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.”
He says that the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship, which BIFA helped to create in 2018, is an ideal entry point for the industry with around 500 apprentices having taken the pathway already, with great success.
He adds that available finance should not be an issue. Significant funding is available as part of the government’s support scheme for training and apprenticeships. Until March 2021, to support employers to take on more apprentices, the government is offering up to £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire.
In a message to individuals considering an apprenticeship in the sector, BIFA points to the fact that the freight and logistics industry will always be needed in an increasingly globalised world where there will always be a need to manage international supply chains to manage, which are in a constant state of flux.
It adds that Brexit is bringing new and different challenges and opportunities, such as the potential for new staff that need training to lead the way in customs procedures.
Hobbis concludes: “With over 1,400 members of BIFA all around the UK, there is likely to be a potential employer close to anyone that wishes to start an International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship.
“Now, more than ever, we need to promote the industry and give young people employment opportunities. We have had an apprenticeship standard for international freight forwarding for three years and the sector has been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a year a career in forwarding.”