Logistics sector’s need for more young apprentices could hit Magna Park in Lutterworth

Plans to extend Magna Park in Lutterworth into one of the biggest distribution centres in the world could be hampered by a lack of suitable staff, a new report has revealed.

Magna Park’s developers IDI Gazeley want to extend the existing nine million square feet of warehousing at the site by two-thirds.

The plan could create a further 7,000 jobs at Magna Park, bringing the total workforce there to 16,000.

And it would make the working population of Magna Park about 60 per cent bigger than the population of nearby Lutterworth.

But as the number of jobs in the logistics industry increases, so the problem of finding skilled logistics workers increases, experts warn.

Gwyn Stubbings, planning director at IDI Gazeley, said: “With the growth levels the logistics sector is experiencing, the demand for technically skilled people drastically outweighs supply.

“We urgently need to attract new talent, skills and professional qualifications into the industry.”

The report, commissioned by Baker Dearing Educational Trust, highlights the lack of young talent being attracted to the logistics sector.

“This can be attributed to the outdated perceptions of young people and their parents that logistics is a low-skilled industry associated with cold, dirty warehouses,” the report summarises.

It states: “Local employers say the reality is quite the opposite and perceptions haven’t evolved in-line with changes.”

February this year saw the unveiling of the Logistics Education Centre at the Sir Frank Whittle Studio School.

But the report said, in general, the labour market requirements of logistics needs to be better communicated to young people.

Presenting the findings at Magna Park recently, report co-author and former boss of Skills for Logistics, Dr Ross Moloney, said: “Our research found the aging profile of workers in logistics is a real concern for businesses and creates an urgent need for employers to engage with schools in a new way.

“Employers agree they must consider a range of education models including University Technical Colleges to meet skills gaps.”

Rachel Young,logistics school of excellence co-ordinator at Office Depot, added: “Young people do not understand what logistics entails and still consider it to be ‘trucks and warehouses’ so they do not apply for positions and we lose out on the talent they represent.

Lord Baker, chairman of Baker Dearing, the charity behind UTCs, said: “It is essential that young people have a good understanding of the opportunities available and the skills requirements of the local labour market.

“Developing and nurturing an ambitious future workforce will directly contribute to the success of our economy.

“UTCs are playing an important role in helping to train the next generation with the skills local businesses need.”

UTCs are technical secondary schools for 14-18 year olds, which are backed by a university and employers.

Thirty UTCs are open in the UK ate the moment and there are set to be more than 55 in the next two years.