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High priority for training in the warehousing sector.

Comprehensive training guide from UKWA addresses perceived weakness in the industry

According to the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) - the trade organization representing nearly 700 member companies in the third-party warehousing, industry - a major weakness in today's warehousing sector, which it shares with so many other areas of British industry, is its attitude towards the training of its workforce. In a move to address this problem, UKWA has published the first comprehensive Warehouse Training Guide which is now available to any company wishing to pursue a more strategic and structured approach to the training of its warehouse personnel.

As the industry training organization (ITO) for the warehousing industry, UKWA has placed increasing emphasis on training issues since the formation of the Warehousing Industry Training Organisation (WITO) four years ago. Since then, WITO - in conjunction with the wholesale and retail sectors - has devised National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (NVQs and SVQs) at levels 1-4 for warehousing, as well as actively promoting and encouraging training to the Association's membership.

Through this activity, WITO soon became aware that companies were unfamiliar with the Government's training initiatives and knew little or nothing about NVQs, SVQs, Investors in People, Training for Work, Youth Training and Modern Apprenticeships, and had no idea what Training & Enterprise Councils (TECs) and Local Enterprise Companies (LECs) were or how they could help. Although all this information is available from a variety of sources, it is a daunting prospect for anyone coming to the subject cold or with even a little knowledge, and especially difficult for a manager working within a very competitive business environment. WITO was quick to appreciate - and react to - this situation and decided that a training guide for the warehousing sector was a high priority.

The guide was produced over the past year by a small steering committee within WITO, assisted by training consultants Pye Tait Associates, and with the support and guidance of Mervyn Humphries of the Department of Employment.

Principal contents

In broad terms, the 124-page guide sets out to answer the what, why and how of a wide range of warehouse training topics and gives examples of good practice.

Produced as an attractive loose-leaf binder arranged in easy reference sections, the guide's 18 chapters cover.

(1) introduction; (2) why train?; (3) the national training system; (4) the local and sectoral training scene; (5) managing training; (6) identifying training needs; (7) design of training programmes; (8) giving instruction; (9) employers and the training of casual labour; (10) using external training suppliers; (11) training trainers; (12) NVQs and SVQs for the warehousing industry; (13) review and evaluation of training; (14) related national initiatives; (15) sources of advice and funding; (16) reference information; (17) glossary of training terms and abbreviations; (18) TEC and LEC addresses.

Following the introduction, the guide opens by answering the question "Why train?" It mentions statutory requirements, the management of change and the benefits that can be expected by companies and employees from implementing a well formulated training plan.

The guide then reminds the reader of the national training and education systems. Against the background of the many changes taking place within education, the guide then lists all the ages and stages of the current system.

The next section of the guide looks at the local and sectoral scene and explains what ITOs are and what they do, and does likewise for Lead Bodies, TECs and LECs, together with the purpose and function of the Distributive Occupational Standards Council.

Training, like any other business function, needs to be properly managed and the guide includes advice on the management of training. It runs through the procedures a company will need to follow if it is to acquire a balanced workforce with the appropriate skills and competences to match its business requirements, and describes how to identify company training needs, individual training needs, the production of a training plan and the choice of methods of training to be given. It also gives information on the types of training programmes available, such as residential courses, in-house training, distance learning, training videos and open learning schemes.

There is also a short chapter on giving instruction to those companies wanting to pass on the expertise of one employee to another. The danger here, of course, is to ensure that what is being taught is in accordance with good practice and the regulations, and that companies avoid the bad habits of one employee being passed on to another.

Training for casual labour

The warehousing industry is a regular user of casual labour to meet the peaks of customer demands, so the guide advises on the employment of casual labour and the training these people need. Likewise, the employment of full-time staff, particularly those new to the industry, all require some form of induction training and the guide advises on what this should entail.

The guide also provides guidance on the use of external training suppliers, the funding required, the selection of training courses, how to brief the company providing the training and, most importantly, how to ensure that the training required is met by the provider and that the company and the trainee receive value for money. It then describes NVQs and SVQs for the warehousing industry, together with appropriate sources of advice, help and funding.

The last third of the guide provides reference information on all the subjects covered in the document. It gives examples of a company training policy, a training budget check list, methods of identifying training needs, an induction training check list and a check list for training specifications. It then gives two case studies where NVQs have been instrumental in improving company performance. Finally, the guide gives details on Investors in People, Training For Work, Youth Training, Training Credits and Modern Apprenticeships, and gives advice on sources of funding and where to obtain local advice and help.

In addition to its own membership, UKWA believes that the guide will be a valuable source of reference for all companies engaged in warehousing to help them devise and implemented their training requirements. UKWA's ultimate justification for producing the guide can be found in the introduction to this useful manual which states: "Company performance and profitability can only be improved by investment. People are a company's most valuable asset. It is the performance of people which makes the difference between a successful company and an unsuccessful one. There is ample evidence to suggest that firms which invest most in training are also the most profitable. Training is an investment in people and should be at the forefront of a company's investment decisions".

Copies of the Warehouse Training Guide, price [pounds]35 plus [pounds]2.50 p&p, are available from: United Kingdom Warehousing Association, Walter House, 418-422 Strand, London WC2R OPT. Tel: 0171 836 5522/0449; Fax: 0171 379 6904.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
Date:Mar 1, 1995
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