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Skills funding webinar signposts members to recruitment solutions
Logistics UK hosted its second skills webinar last week (2 March 2022), which was run in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Education (DfE), to help signpost members to potential solutions to their recruitment challenges.
Mags Simpson, Head of Policy Engagement, Logistics UK, who chaired the webinar, said its main purpose was to help members understand and make sense of different funding pots available to them. While acknowledging that there was no “magic wand” to create a ready supply of HGV drivers, she said there were many revenue streams which members could access to help them bring in new employees.
“This is all about what funding is available to you right now and while it’s quite a complicated picture, we hope that this session will help signpost you to the most useful and best possible solutions,” she said, “The focus of the presentation is on what Westminster-funded initiatives are available via both the DWP and the DfE.”
THE DWP OFFER
Alex Farkas, Senior Account Manager at DWP, covered the work his department was doing in support of the logistics and haulage sector.
“We want to promote and put a spotlight on the sector to reach our customers who are unemployed and looking for work to consider seriously your sector as a career choice,” he said.
Farkas said DWP was focused on promoting the logistics sector as a career choice for its unemployed customers who were actively seeking work. In terms of priority, logistics was one of five sectors that the government has identified as a growth sector with opportunities for work progression.
“We have been working very closely with industry and trade associations connected to logistics, particularly Logistics UK, and this is one example of doing that to really try and promote your sector as a career choice to attract the workforce of the future,” he said.
As the lead for the logistics sector in DWP’s National Employer Partnership team, Farkas works to support the sector on a national basis, running a two-week campaign last year where he put a spotlight on logistics internally.
“What I was trying to do there was educate the educators, in particular our work coach staff who are careers advisers effectively,” he said, “They’re the broker between someone unemployed looking for work and an employer looking to fill a vacancy. My idea was to upskill them and increase their knowledge about your sector so they could have that informed and meaningful discussion with a jobseeker and then considering logistics in all its forms and guises, as a serious career choice for our customers looking for work.”
Farkas proceeded to provide a menu of support schemes and services available through DWP, including Sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) and Find a job, urging members to Google ‘support for employers’ on GOV.UK to find out more about each scheme.
Work trials, part of the Way to Work initiative, are an opportunity for someone who is in receipt of benefits to try out a job before being employed, up to a maximum of 30 working days.
“It works both ways,” he said, “It’s an opportunity for you as an employer to assess someone actually in the workplace and in the role itself before committing to actually employing them and doing all the necessary paperwork that goes with that. Similarly, for the actual potential employee, it’s an opportunity for them to prove themselves in the workplace for that particular role.”
Mentoring Circles is a further scheme where employers act as mentors for their industry and company. DWP introduces a group of younger people to employers for mentoring, either at their own workplace or at a local Jobcentre. This is an opportunity for prospective employers to talk to them about the world of work in their organisation and inspire them about the logistics sector as a career choice.
“Where we’ve run these Mentoring Circles, they’ve gone down tremendously well in terms of re-educating young people and we can set them up for older workers as well,” Farkas said.
A further initiative he drew attention to is the Restart Scheme, an intensive job search and job preparation support, designed for people who have been unemployed for more than nine months.
“We’ve contracted with specialist organisations around the country to support that particular group effectively, bringing them nearer to the labour market and into employment. They’re obviously looking to engage and connect with employers in their locality to create a pathway for those customers into employment,” he explained.
WAY TO WORK
The initiative that Farkas particularly wanted to highlight was Way to Work, an initiative launched at the beginning of 2022 to fill the record number of vacancies that are currently available in the job market.
“We’ve actually got 1.2 million vacancies in the UK currently, probably one of the highest number of vacancies we’ve had since records began,” he said, “So the push really is we’ve got 1.7 million people on Universal Credit or on benefits and we’ve got 1.2 million vacancies, let’s try and fill them as quickly and effectively as we can.”
Concluding, Farkas encouraged members to work with government, particularly DWP and Jobcentres, to promote their vacancies, and open their doors to show prospective applicants exactly what their organisations can offer.
DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION PROGRAMMES
Toni Moore, a member of the Traineeships Policy Team within the Department for Education (DfE) spoke next, covering an overview of all of the programmes that are available for employers in the logistics sector that sit under DfE.
The Skills Bootcamps, which were introduced in autumn 2020, had an unusually wide reach, she explained, because they were aimed at all individuals over the age of 19 who were currently employed, self-employed or unemployed, as well as those who may want to return to the sector, using a retraining and upskilling option. Flexible in duration, the Bootcamps can take up to 16 weeks and are available in a wide range of sectors
On the HGV Skills Bootcamps, individual applicants are assessed for skills gaps, from industry returnees that require upskilling to those who are new to the sector and require a broader training programme.
Employers can use the Skills Bootcamps to upskill or retrain their existing employees, but will be expected to contribute 30% of the cost, with the remaining 70% being met by government.
In 2020, DfE contracted out to a wide range of training providers across England to deliver and host the Skills Bootcamps.
“We are currently about to go live with Wave 3 for the Skills Bootcamps,” Moore said, “For each wave the funding has increased so at the last Spending Review Wave 3 procurement had a huge increase and that will be available from April 2022.”
In addition, contracts for Wave 2 have been extended up to November 2022 to cover any potential gap that may occur.
Moore encouraged members to look at the full list of Bootcamps available and said that government had implemented the HGV Skills Bootcamps in response to the HGV driver shortage. “We have seen some fantastic uptake, and hence I think the volume’s there in terms of the commitment, the additional funding that’s been made available and the extension to the programme,” she said.
Unlike the wide reach of the Skills Bootcamps, the traineeship programme is a very flexible programme to support young people between 16 and 24 years old, which can last between six weeks to 12 months, with most lasting around 14 weeks.
A traineeship includes a high-quality work placement, where an individual is placed with an employer and will experience the world of work to gain skills and experience. However, this is an unpaid work experience opportunity, which can last between a minimum of 70 hours up to 240 hours. Some of the people who use this work experience opportunity will be in receipt of benefits, hence the 240-hour cap.
The warehouse and logistics traineeships came about as a result of the work DfE have been doing with DWP and Logistics UK. Following the last webinar hosted by Logistics UK, many employers expressed an interest in becoming engaged and involved in the traineeship programme.
“As a result of that we’re working with them to develop a sector-focused programme. It’s all about attracting and engaging young people to bring them into the sector, give them a taste and a wide range of roles within the sector, because it goes much broader than being a driver or a picker, for example.”
Traineeships are aimed at young people who are not quite work ready and need a little extra support to make their next steps. “This programme is a really good opportunity to allow them to have that taster,” she said, “What it allows you to do as an employer is work with that young person and support them to make that decision, and also allows you to decide which role they are best suited to in your organisation.”
There is also a £1,000 incentive payment for employers who host a work experience opportunity, which has been in place since September 2020 and is available until July 2022. This is capped at ten payments per region but if your organisation has a national footprint you can claim up to ten in each of the nine regions.
Touching on apprenticeships, Moore said these are available and can be used to engage and recruit new individuals into your organisation or to upskill and develop some of your existing workforce. They are available from a Level 2 (GCSE) qualification right up to a Level 7 (post-graduate) qualification.
For any member who missed the webinar, a recording can be accessed here and more information is available on the Skills Hub.
Published On: 10/03/2022 16:00:00