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Influencing change across government – party conference

Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy, Logistics UK

Traditionally, Logistics UK has worked collaboratively with Department for Transport (DfT) on influencing change in the logistics sector. However, the political landscape is changing, as is business, and it is not enough for us to focus all our attention in one place. So that we can represent the sector better and ensure logistics is truly understood and appreciated as to the impact it has on the whole economy, we have to adapt our scope and open up dialogue more widely across government. The Conservative Party’s Autumn Conference is a good opportunity for us to voice the challenges of the industry to a cross-government audience and highlight where other departments can make a difference. This year, the conference is being held 3-6 October in Manchester.

We are keen to increase our influence across departments, such as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), HM Treasury, Cabinet Office, Department for International Trade (DIT), Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). We also want to enable direct dialogue with MPs, as key decision makers on policy in the UK. Following the Cabinet reshuffle last week, it also gives us an opportunity to engage with new ministerial leaders and present the challenges the logistics sector faces.

One of the areas that we are planning to highlight is the skills shortage, which continues to be a priority for our sector. The Logistics UK 2021 Transport Manager Survey found that the average number of HGV driver vacancies has doubled since 2019. In our Logistics Performance Tracker (LPT 12), 42% of respondents reported very severe problems in filling these roles – compared to 38% in May. It is not just drivers that are proving hard to recruit, with almost three-quarters of respondents experiencing at least some problems filling vacancies for mechanics, fitters and technicians.

While government has identified apprenticeships as its long-term strategy to fill these roles, there are still challenges we face. At the conference, we are organising a panel discussion on skills entitled Driving the economy: what is the future for lower skilled workers? Logistics UK will be hosting this event with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister as well as leading voices from the logistics and skills sector. During this session we will be debating the role of level 2 roles in our economy, if they are important and should they receive less favourable treatment than those which are level 3 and above. This will allow us to amplify key messages, such as the funding imbalance between level 2 qualifications and level 3 and above, to the heart of government.

In addition to the skills panel discussion, Logistics UK will also be speaking to conference delegates on the next chapter for just-in-time supply chains in a post-Brexit global Britain, and long-term trade resilience. We plan to bring out the need to maintain efficient, fast-moving but secure borders. This will require a step-change in government and business partnerships, with many more firms becoming authorised as secure trade partners so that checks can be done away from the border. We will also stress the vital role of maritime ports, rail links and air connections to our international trade, and ask government to continue to help foster innovation in these sectors.

We hope to see many members at the party conference and support us in voicing the challenges we collectively face. If members would like to attend, please contact me at edejong@logistics.org.uk for more details.


Published On: 23/09/2021 16:00:23


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