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Road to ruin?

first_imgRoad to ruin?On 2 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today Newworking time law threatens to create a recruitment crisis for the freight andhaulage sector. Ben Willmott reports on how employers are respondingIt has been estimated there will be a shortage of 80,000 lorry drivers inthe UK once new European legislation limiting driver hours comes into force. Under the Working Time Directive for Mobile Workers drivers will be able towork a maximum 48 hours a week from 2005, creating a huge recruitment head-achefor the sector. The Road Haulage Association is so concerned about the impact of thelegislation that it has this month written to Alistair Darling, secretary ofstate for transport, urging the Government to challenge the European Commissionon the legality of the directive. Ruth Pott, head of employment for the RHA, believes the directive will havea devastating impact on the industry. Not only will haulage firms have to hiremore drivers as working hours are cut from an average of about 62 to a maximumof 48, but they will struggle to hold on to their existing staff because ofcuts to overtime pay. The Freight Transport Association has also responded to the recruitmentchallenges facing the sector by running a series of initiatives to promotecareer opportunities for drivers as well as warehouse operatives, logisticsdirectors and depot managers. John Hix, head of training and development for the FTA, said the organisationrecently launched its Smart moves – make a career in freight scheme at the CVShow at the NEC in Birmingham aiming to improve the industry’s macho andold-fashioned image. “The idea was to show the best side of the industry and help blow awayits negative image,” said Hix. The FTA has produced careers booklets for school and college leavers,promoting the range of opportunities available to them within the road haulageindustry. Hix believes employers in the sector must do more than wait for the nextgeneration of school leavers to meet their skills needs and take advantage ofthe diversity in the employment market. “We are competing for a scarce resource so we’ve got to attract careerchangers and look for people from different resource pools, whether male orfemale, unemployed and youngster to over 50s,” he added. The RHA and FTA believe that the freight and road haulage sector will bebetter equipped to cope with the challenges it faces if its bid to achieveSector Skills Council (SSC) status is approved by the Government over the nextfew weeks. Ian Hetherington, chief executive of the Road Haulage and DistributionTraining Council, told Personnel Today that a SSC recognition would increasethe sector’s lobbying power and lead to more investment in training. He said the sector has already made much progress in improving its imagethrough the introduction of schemes such as Modern Apprenticeships for drivers,which allow people as young as 18 to start training as drivers. “We are not going to change the attitudes of young people overnight,but this is part of a 10-year plan. Young people will be interested in joiningthe industry if opportunities are right,” he said. Bert Proctor, director of employee relations at parcel delivery giant TNT,estimates the company will need to employ an additional 300 collection anddelivery drivers on top of its 1,500 if the Working Time Directive for MobileWorkers is introduced in its current form. “We will seek to train more drivers ourselves. We will look closely atpeople we already employ, warehouse operatives, for example, to see if we candevelop them as professional drivers,” he said. The company has already taken steps to make it a more attractive employer.Training is linked closely to recruitment and retention to ensure potentialrecruits are aware of the career development opportunities within the firm, andthat existing employees have a clear career path. Ruth James, group training and development manager, said TNT has employed anumber of driver development officers to ensure their drivers can fulfil theirfull potential. The company is able to demonstrate that it puts its policies into practicebecause its managing director Tom Bell is a former driver who has worked hisway up through the ranks. As part of the development process, the company puts all its drivers throughtheir master driver qualification. “They are our frontline troops. They are the ambassadors for thecompany so they need customer care skills to ensure they look and act the part.It also gives them a feeling of being a professional,” said James. All employees are given annual appraisals to review their performance, setobjectives and identify any training needs. Staff who are taking their first steps onto the management ladder are putthrough a first-line management course. Senior managers go on a corporatedevelopment programme run by Nottingham Business School. Employers in the sector should also look to other industries for recruits,according to Robin Cooper, group HR director at logistics company Ryder.Cooper, who joined the road haulage sector six years ago from the manufacturingindustry, said: “At Ryder we are throwing away the perceived wisdom thatpeople need sector experience and are increasingly recruiting from outside theindustry. “A good business developer just needs to understand the nuances of thesector to get to grips with the job. One of our most successful generalmanagers was recruited from the tyre industry. Do we really need someone whohas spent their life in the road transport industry when someone with freshthinking may be preferable?” he asked. Cooper admits there is also a challenge for the road haulage industry incompeting against other sectors where margins are not as tight and thereforesalaries are very competitive in those sectors. Because of this, haulage firmsare increasingly introducing employment practices that offer a wide range ofbenefits, such as generous pensions, car allowances and employee share schemes.Cooper said Ryder’s three-tiered policy of training junior, middle andsenior managers to attract high calibre candidates and improve the performanceof existing staff and attract new employees is already paying dividends. www.rha.net  www.fta.co.ukCase Study: Christian SalvesenTransport giant Christian Salvesen isanother firm in the sector placing an increasing emphasis on training anddevelopment in order to recruit and retain good staff.Christian Salvesen runs a variety of training and developmentprogrammes ranging from graduate trainee schemes to conversion courses fordrivers or supervisors who are ready to move into their first managementposition.John Paterson, group HR director of Christian Salvesen said:”This industry does not have a good reputation for training managers. Itis often assumed that a good operations person can be a good manager, which isnot always the case.”The company uses the national examining board in supervisorymanagement (NEBS) for those moving into managerial roles and the HenleyManagement College for middle managers who are eager to move up the corporateladder.Paterson said: “It’s not uncommon for people to make itfrom the shop floor to a NEBS course. We have regular succession planningmeetings to decide who goes on the courses.” Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more