By Gerard Walker
Future Jobs-Skills-Work Insights
Excellence in Logistics and Supply Chain Skills capability is vital for Irish enterprise competitiveness and regional development. Along with the distribution of freight goods around the country, some 80% of Irish manufacturing output is exported by a combination of road, sea, air, and rail modes. The development of this talent is the focus of the National Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group which has produced its first annual progress report. The Group was established to support the implementation of recommendations made within various Expert Group on Future Skill Needs (EGFSN) reports. The Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group is currently chaired by the Department of Transport, based on its links to wider transport policy issues and comprises key stakeholder representatives from industry, education, and government.
The key objectives of the Group are to:
- Provide a forum for communication, collaboration, and leadership in addressing the sectors skills needs.
- Monitor labour market developments in the sector and provide insights into their emerging skills needs.
- Improve the profile of Logistics/Supply Chain roles, making it easier to recruit talent including by improving knowledge among secondary students of the range of interesting roles across all sectors.
- Make progression pathways available to those entering or already working in the roles, particularly for those at lower-skilled levels, with clear role definitions mapped to academic or other vocational awards.
- Ensure development opportunities are available to provide the required skills, knowledge, and competencies.
- Enhance employee retention.
There are 107,800 persons employed in Freight Transport and Logistics activities in Ireland. Employment is distributed across regions. Areas of work are Transport and Storage (43%), Wholesale and Retail (17%), Manufacturing (10%), Construction (6%) and Other sectors (23%). In terms of overall economic activity, transport, storage, and logistics activities account for €6.5 billion of total gross value added in the Irish economy.
The Group's progress report highlights the sectors upskilling challenge, particularly around HGV driver shortages and digital upskilling requirements. Also, for new customs clearance expertise arising from Brexit trading arrangements with Britain such as requirements for double import duties on goods that are warehoused or distributed to Ireland via Britain and for import and/or export, security, and safety declarations. This is against the background of domestic and global supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Group's work programme has facilitated the establishment of two industry/academia led subgroups. Their objectives are to improve alignment between curriculum and industry needs and to encourage best practice by developing a structure for continuous professional development and promoting management development training provision.
A key activity has been to establish a network of Logistics and Supply Chain “Champions”, consisting of both companies and individuals, to promote the associated careers and their entry routes to students/workers/career guidance counsellors. The Department of Transport has invited industry bodies to nominate individuals and companies. Several apprenticeship programmes relevant to Logistics and Supply Chain activities are established within the new Apprenticeship model which provides a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice taken on. The Further Education and Training sector provides substantial training in HGV driving, including a Professional HGV Traineeship, and forklift driving.
Customs training courses run by public and private operators were ramped up in 2020. These include Skillnet Ireland’s Clear Customs virtual training, Local Enterprise Offices workshops, and Enterprise Irelands Customs Insights Course and Brexit Advisory Clinics. The “Ready for Customs” grant provided through Enterprise Ireland, is open to all companies trading with or through the UK. This provides companies with up to €9,000 for each new fulltime employee and €4,500 for a part-time employee engaged in customs work. The nine Regional Skills Fora are working to connect transport, logistics and supply chain companies with training providers offering courses in customs clearance.
The Logistics and Supply Chain Group priorities for 2021 include the development of a promotional campaign for 2nd level students, finalising an inventory of available educational offerings, mapping of relevant career pathways, matching logistics and supply chain “Champions” with a calendar of events, and exploring the feasibility of a logistics and supply chain careers portal.
The Logistics and Supply chain sector is essential for the smooth movement of freight goods both domestically and internationally. The Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group has a key role to play supporting the initial and continuous professional development of logistics and supply chain talent. The first annual progress report of the Group has reported steady progress in this regard. The progress of its work programme will be of interest to L&D professionals given that all enterprises require such skillsets either for in-house logistics and supply chain operations and/or the management of contracted services.
The first annual progress report of the Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group is available HERE.