Government ‘needs to understand what supply chains are’ CILT tells Transport Committee

The knowledge of the road freight supply chain sector as a career choice is lacking, and to overcome many of the challenges the sector faces, the government needs to start by understanding what supply chains are – and they currently do not – CILT CEO Kevin Richardson told the Transport Select Committee this morning.

Mr Richardson called on government to help raise the profile of the profession and to better understand and communicate the opportunities available.  

CILT (UK) appeared before the Transport Select Committee as a witness as part of its inquiry into the road freight supply chain.

Mr Richardson said: “The knowledge of the road freight supply chain sector as a career of choice is lacking, and that is something both the profession and government need to address. 

“In the most recent options week in schools, the logistics, transport and supply chain sector was not included, yet there are 2.7 million people employed across this sector in the UK. 

“While the government has begun to engage with the profession to understand labour availability and diversity in the transport, logistics and supply chain sector. Current DfT work on the Future of Freight recognises ‘the importance of the freight sector to economic wellbeing and [its] role in realising core Government strategic objectives’, but the CILT has raised a number of challenges with the DfT approach.

“Firstly, government needs to understand what supply chains are, and they currently do not. The term ‘freight’ is used by officials to cover everything that is not passenger transport. This suggests a lack of understanding of the differences between ‘freight’ as the commodity transported, ‘freight transport’ as the movement of goods, ‘logistics’ (the timely positioning of resources), and supply chains. CILT has argues that a holistic approach to supply chains is fundamental in overcoming many of the challenges that the sector faces. 

“CILT is calling on government to support modal shift, work collectively across ministerial departments and businesses across the sector, to further support industry with initiatives such as the Year of Logistics and to build better facilities for drivers. 

“We also recommend that the Apprenticeship Levy needs be restructured to allow the creation of more flexible schemes, deliver greater benefit to the sector and ensure the majority of revenue is returned to the sector. 

“To achieve a step change, there needs to be clear career pathways and a recognition of the breadth of roles and opportunities available across a profession that employs over 2.7m people. The CILT see a clear requirement for a concerted, joint effort by Government and operational businesses across the sector to raise the profile and societal value of the transport, logistics and supply chain profession.”

The Committee’s objectives are to explore the immediate and systemic challenges to the effective operation of the road freight supply chain and to assess the effectiveness of the Government’s policies to meet them and today’s session covered driver retention, recruitment and the wider challenges facing the road freight supply chain.

Watch a recording of today’s session here

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