Karen Shuter and Neil Coker

New logistics hub in Rugby to help overcome skills shortage

One of the barriers to growth for one of the biggest employment sectors in Rugby is being overcome after the issue was highlighted at a business meeting in the town.

The shortage of training provision for the logistics industry – which supports 23,700 jobs in Warwickshire alone – was raised by Karen Shuter, the chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s Rugby branch at a committee meeting.

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey was present at the meeting to hear of local business concerns and vowed to support Karen, who runs Exact Logistics, in her efforts to help bridge the skills gap in the sector.

Following that meeting, Warwickshire College Group (WCG), Warwickshire County Council, the Chamber and Mr Pawsey pulled together a plan of action to help overcome the barrier.

Karen and WCG Rugby College campus applied for a £39,100 Skills Challenge grant from Warwickshire County Council’s Skills for Employment programme. The application was successful and has paved the way for a new logistics learning hub which has been created at the campus.

Business Studies students who began their courses in September now have logistics as part of their course as a pilot project and, in January, the first learners from small and medium-sized businesses in the sector will be enrolled onto industry-led level 2 & 3 Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport qualifications.

The hub will also provide a series of work experience opportunities as well as a brand new Logistics Office Simulation Facility.

Karen Shuter said: “I am absolutely thrilled that this opportunity is now available to learners here in Rugby.

“When you consider how important the sector is to the town, the surrounding borough and the county, it was difficult to believe there was no provision.

“I raised the issue when the Chamber was running its initial Go For Growth campaign because it was looking at some of the barriers to growth. It is fitting, therefore, that the new Go For Growth: Trade Local campaign has just been launched and we have this fantastic success story to shout about.”

Mark Pawsey said: “The meetings are a good opportunity for me to hear the issues that businesses have in the area and I always say that, where I can, I will help to overcome any barriers they may be facing.

“I am pleased that through all of us talking we have come up with this fantastic solution.”

Neil Coker, Group Vice Principal, Curriculum at WCG, said: “As an organisation we pride ourselves on the extent to which we work with local and regional employers and industry sectors. The logistics hub is another example of where we have worked in partnership to support skills needs in the area and link our student body with future job opportunities. The aim is that the logistics hub provides students with an introduction to highly-rewarding jobs and careers in this sector that they had previously not considered.

“The sector needs well-trained, confident and well-educated young people and our students are the solution to future skills needs in transport management and logistics. As an approved centre for delivery of CILT qualifications we are also now able to offer shorter training and upskilling opportunities for the local community and for those already employed in the sector but who want to progress in their careers.”

Glenn Robinson, Skills for Employment manager for Warwickshire County Council, said: “The council is delighted to support development of the hub as the logistics sector is of huge importance to the county.

“I’ve visited the hub and have seen what a professional environment it provides. Hopefully, many of the students who will learn there go on to secure jobs in logistics.”

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