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FutureDRV consortium discusses with UK experts and stakeholders

At the end of June the project partners discussed with experts and stakeholders from the UK about future skill requirements within logistics and future-oriented training approaches within professional driver training.

This third FutureDRV stakeholder workshop took place at the home of CILT UK in Corby, England. CILT UK is an Associate Partner of the project. The workshop, organised by the UK project partner Transformotion, focused on the education and training needed for professional drivers of the future, particularly in relation to technology, methodology and societal changes.

After a short introduction about CILT and what they do, the agenda moved to the first round table session, kicking off a series of presentations by invited speakers. Bethany Fovargue, Operations Manager for the Novus Trust, was the first to address the delegates. Bethany’s presentation, entitled ‘From Graduate to the Logistics World’ began with a summary of the main issues facing the industry when it comes to people, highlighting some alarming facts about the growth in demand for goods versus the lack of management talent coming into the industry. Providing some key statistics about the talent shortage, Bethany made the link between the shortage and the efforts that some companies go to (or not) to listen to their employees, reinforcing the need for people to feel valued and engaged within a company. Giving some background to the relationships that Novus has fostered, she explained how two UK universities (Huddersfield and Aston) were supporting the scheme through a graduate development programme that sees students taking up a career with one of the supporting organisations once they leave university. With 120 undergraduates having completed the programme, Bethany hopes to help grow the take up in the Novus scheme and to fulfil the potential of many students across the UK. In closing she provided information about why Novus is important to UK logistics and transport, stating that not enough students are currently entering the labour market and that the approach to tackling the issue could be better through better collaboration between stakeholders and other parties.

The second presentation was from Brian Szukala of Transfer Knowledge Partners, a specialist training and consultancy company working in the logistics and pharmaceutical sectors. Brian’s chosen subject was ‘Vocational Training Requirements for a Changing Industry’, with the core theme being value added training. Starting with a summary of Driver CPC as a counter-productive example of professional driver training Brian reinforced the need for a better approach to mandatory training from all angles, recommending that legislation setters and companies alike embrace a different way of thinking; one that allows a more focused and individual approach to training, with more flexibility and more variation. He moved on to highlight the work that the IRU has been doing to develop their training programmes, again focusing on the need for better quality driver training. Concluding with a ‘mission and vision’ for the industry, Brian made the point that ultimately both managers and drivers need to benefit from value added training.

A question and answer session, moderated by James Tillyer, provided the opportunity for delegates to raise a number of comments which led to enthusiastic open discussion and the conclusion that companies and senior managers now need to take the lead when it comes to employee engagement and corporate culture change, and that drivers need to benefit from targeted, relevant training for their job, not just for their industry.

The workshop reconvened after lunch with the second round table session, based on the theme of ‘Training Tools and Methods of the Future’. A presentation was made by Sarah Smith, Managing Director of a learning development company called Walkgrove. Entitled ‘Distance Learning for the New Generation’ Sarah began with a summary of the main talking point of the moment; autonomous trucks. With much debate around when we’ll see fully autonomous trucks regularly on the road Sarah provided a couple of statements from members of the American Trucking Associations, who state that driverless trucks vehicles are a long way off and that public perception has far to go before the technology will be widely accepted. Sarah’s presentation then set the scene with the question ‘What is distance learning?’, putting forward her suggestions as to what it might comprise. A practical showcase followed, providing examples of the work that Walkgrove has been doing towards the development of 3D e-Learning, with recent work around truck drivers and vulnerable road users. Echoing the sentiment of others, Sarah reinforced the need for accessible and interesting learning as a way of securing the career of a driver. Looking forward Sarah then posed the question ‘What about the future?’ and presented some examples of what skills a professional driver will likely need. Highlighting an issue of the future she highlighted the fact that 1 in 5 people in the UK are not yet digitally connected and that to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us we need to address that problem in some way. She moved on to talk about the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality, and concluded that as the opportunities for varied training become more accessible that the industry needs to take the lead and find better solutions in a connected world. A short question and answer session followed, which in turn generated further discussion around the subject of training tools including trainer methodology.

The final presentation came from Andreas Silfverberg, Managing Director of Stage IT based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Stage IT is a partner within the FutureDRV project. Andreas began by introducing the concept behind an important part of the project, namely the pilot modules that will form the basis of future learning in a range of subjects. Explaining the rationale behind the chosen subjects of customer service and responding to unforeseen events on the road Andreas said that as a professional driver becomes less involved in manual-based tasks (including driving) there will be a need to develop customer service skills to reflect the fact that they’ll take on more of an ambassadorial role within the company, and that this will require a different skillset to the one that currently exists. He went on to suggest that there’s an opportunity to train drivers to become ‘first responders’ or ‘knights of the road’ in the event of a road accident, providing essential support while waiting for the emergency services to arrive at the scene. He highlighted this as a way of further improving the image of professional truck drivers, suggesting this would go some way to reaching members of the public who, by and large, have a dim view of truck driving. Concluding his presentation Andreas reminded delegates that their input is important and that he would welcome any suggestions throughout the duration of the project. James Tillyer then spoke about the topics that had been presented and moderated a short round table discussion about the challenges of the future. In closing the workshop James thanked those who gave their time to present their subjects and hoped the delegates found value in the information provided.


(Image: (c) DEKRA)