Stepping into the role of CEO with the UK’s leading trade association for logistics is not only a great privilege for me, it also presents an opportunity to make a difference at a time when our industry is facing new challenges, but also public recognition of the work we do is higher than ever before.
Undoubtedly, I have some big shoes to fill. My predecessor Peter Ward has transformed UKWA, creating a real ‘voice for the industry’ and leaving the association in great shape for the future, but I’m excited to be able to bring a fresh perspective from a logistics user point of view and I look forward to hearing from members where their priorities lie going forward.
Although I will be listening carefully before setting out my plans, what I can promise members is that my agenda will focus on attracting diverse talent and promoting sustainability. I see fostering a culture of safety and compliance in warehousing as part of the journey towards sustainability, for example: protecting people and the planet, as well as profits, and the introduction of UKWA’s new Risk Assessment Toolkit is, of course, an important step in that process.
Education is another big issue for me. Ours is the fastest growing sector in the UK economy, delivering thousands of new jobs (the UKWA’s report on the size and make-up of the UK warehousing sector gives hard evidence of this), yet we continue to struggle with labour and skills shortages. Of course, not all learning is formally acquired: the apprenticeship model recognises this with its requirement for a portfolio of diverse practice. However, schools have struggled during lockdown to deliver the employer encounters and workplace experiences they are required to provide for their students and there is currently no GCSE or A level in warehousing or logistics. So, unless children and young people come across logistics via another route, they simply won’t know about the great career opportunities in our sector.
I believe it’s crucial to evaluate the skills gap, agree priorities and build consensus among members. Then, by collaborating with the education sector, policy-makers and other trade organisations, make our industry an increasingly attractive place to work.
I’m a person of strong commitments and have always been determined to play an active part in advancing the interests of the industry. Under my leadership, the UKWA will remain a place where dialogue and debate can thrive. With over 800 members and growing, I realise it’s unlikely that everyone in the Association will share the same priorities, and I imagine some in the wider logistics community will want to challenge my views too. My message is bring it on – and if you’re not already a member of the sector’s best trade association, why not join us and make your voice heard!