Oakland International and FSDF Promote Industry Qualifications

Oakland International HR and Purchasing Director, David Hoey with Chris Sturman CEO of FSDF

Oakland International HR and Purchasing Director, David Hoey with Chris Sturman CEO of FSDF

An education and training seminar delivered by the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF), is the latest stage in Redditch based Oakland International’s drive to embed vocational training and skills programmes as the benchmark route for future development and career progression of its employees.

Oakland International HR and Purchasing Director, David Hoey, stated: “FSDF Pathway Qualifications are rapidly becoming the recognised standard for operational managers and those looking to progress within the food and logistics supply chain, providing a platform whereby skills and competencies can be measured, the qualification is also intended to attract young people into taking up a career within the food and logistics industry.”

An industry wide initiative, collaboration is helping support the development of a wider and deeper pool of talent for the future. Part of Oakland International’s People Plan, their goal is to establish the Level 2 qualification as the benchmark standard for all warehouse employees by 2014, a performance standard designed to attract, retain and develop people who wish to continue building their skills and knowledge. The benefit to Oakland International is an engaged and skilled workforce able to capitalise on the company’s future growth as the business forges ahead and is crucial to supporting Oakland International’s customers as they expand the range of service models and platforms both here in the UK and Ireland.

Chris Sturman, CEO of FSDF commented: “FSDF, in collaboration with Skills for Logistics, has carefully designed and implemented the FSDF Training and Skills Pathway, funded by Government where possible, to ensure that the special requirements of the food logistics sector are recognised and integrated into a training regime to meet the current and future needs of current and prospective members across the supply chain. The results for individual employees, the teams in which they work and their performance and motivation, as well as the business units themselves, achieved to date are highly visible, and work through to improved efficiency, customer and product care and profitability. It also provides a more visible platform from which to encourage young people to seriously think about logistics as a realistic and exciting career option, and our pre-employment qualification initiative provides that first step on the journey. We are working on a complete suite of qualifications from pre-employment through to supervisory, with connections then to the CILT UK Certificate and Diploma professional qualifications and alignment also with first degree and masters modules with some well know Universities. I am delighted that Oakland International are helping to trail blaze this programme.”

Split in to three sessions; an overview of the FSDF’s Pathway Qualification Programme and vision for the future was provided by Maurice Young, of Maurice Young Consulting and FSDF Board member who has been the lead in developing the vocational qualifications within the FSDF Pathway. These have been based on National Occupational Standards in collaboration with Skills for Logistics, the Sector Skills Council, and specially contextualised to ensure their relevance for companies with food logistics activities. The QCF warehouse qualification is certificated by City and D Guilds and Maurice ensures the quality of delivery. Three companies, Associated Cold Storage and Transport (ACS&T), Cold Move Ltd, and Oakland International, have put over 150 candidates through the initial pilot process. This includes apprenticeships, warehouse, transport and administrative qualifications and food business excellence modules and all should have completed their training and gained certificates by April 2013.

A subsequent presentation from FSDF member Steve Robson, Head of HR, ACS&T, highlighted the business improvement benefits their business had derived from Pathway involvement and their intention to continue implementation for future employee development. Finally Chris Sturman, FSDF CEO, leading informal discussion, focused on the future training environment and how Government was now handing the ownership of funding for business education and skills over to employers, since it was appreciated that only businesses really understood what training they needed, and that future training activity needed to be relevant to business requirements. The second UKCES Employer Ownership of Skills Bid for Fund stage is currently underway, with the FSDF entry due by 28th March.

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