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UK Freight Association reintroduces face-to-face training programme

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has confirmed that some of its extensive portfolio of training courses will return to being conducted in person, as it strengthens the team of people that deliver that training.

“Delegates have shown their appreciation for being able to complete our various courses online since classroom training was suspended in March 2020. They have also expressed their desire to receive face-to-face training. Hence, we plan to reintroduce classroom sessions from late April 2022,” explained executive director Carl Hobbis, who has overall responsibility for BIFA’s training activities. “Whilst we will recommence face-to-face training, our successful online training courses will continue.”

The first course to return to the classroom on 27 April 2022 at Heathrow, will be Customs Essentials. This is a one-day course that provides knowledge around the key customs documentation and regimes. It is ideal for someone with a basic understanding of the industry.

There will be a return to the classroom for BIFA’s four-day BTEC Intermediate Award in Customs Export and Import Procedures, commencing in May. This course is designed for those that would prefer a formal qualification and covers a wide range of customs-related topics.

On 26 May 2022, BIFA’s Freight Forwarding Essentials course will re-commence in person. This one-day course is ideal for someone new to the industry and provides a basic knowledge around the key documentation, modes of transport, insurance, bookings, charges and consolidations.

Hobbis added: “Despite having to deliver our entire portfolio of courses online in 2021, it was an excellent year for the trade association’s training programme, culminating in our decision to appoint an additional full-time trainer to our training delivery team.”

Lisa Rose has joined BIFA as trainer – freight and customs procedures, giving the trade association a four-strong team based in Manchester, Birmingham and Feltham, which will enable it to deliver more training days for its members during 2022.

Rose, who joins BIFA from Intelligent Global Logistics, will be based in the Midlands, and has over 20 years of experience in freight forwarding and logistics. This includes management and supervisory roles, including branch manager, covering sales, customs, customer service, documentation, special projects, and key account management. Prior to Intelligent Global Logistics, she worked in senior roles at Air Menzies International for over a decade.

Hobbis said: “It’s a pleasure to welcome Lisa to the team that delivers our freight and customs training. She has extensive industry experience, and in 2020 achieved a distinction in BIFA’s BTEC in Customs Export and Import Procedures, so has practical experience of the trade association’s training activities. Having her onboard will help us to further demonstrate that BIFA’s freight and customs training programmes are the most engaging in the industry.”

BIFA director general, Robert Keen said: “Our previous prediction that Brexit, the switch from CHIEF to CDS, and the development of a relevant freight forwarding apprenticeship, would lead to a significant increase in the demand for our training programmes, has been proved correct. We hope to see more of our members start to take on more apprentices and Lisa’s appointment strengthens the team to have the resources in place to handle any further increase in demand that accompanies the growth in apprentice employment.”

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Women in STEM: Empowerment in employment

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors are largely occupied by men. The number of women in these industries is particularly low — findings from 2017 reported that only 23 per cent of STEM employees are women. This is undoubtedly low, however is 105,470 higher than rates in 2016.

Attitudes appear to be changing towards women in the STEM workforce. This year has seen some of the biggest names and influential figures in the industry being women, such as Kate Bouman, the woman who engineered the first image of a black hole. In this article, we track how more women have entered STEM than any other field in the past four decades...

Research by LinkedIn stated that of all career fields, STEM had more female employees over the last 40 years than any other sector. Philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, Melinda Gates, said: “Innovation happens when we approach urgent challenges from every different point of view. Bringing women and underrepresented minorities into the field guarantees that we see the full range of solutions to the real problems that people face in the world”.

Health and fitness app Fitbit came under scrutiny in 2018 when they released their period tracker which had a 10-day cycle. If more women were involved in the creation, they would’ve realised this was 3 days too long. In the States, the tech industry is one of the highest paying fields — yet women are still paid less than their male counterparts.

Breaking Through Bias

Biases are unfortunately a part of the way people think. Especially when we’ve been raised with the idea that men are better suited for certain jobs than women. Charles Darwin described women as intellectual inferiors and universities rejected women up until the 20th century.

Senior vice president for the American Association of University Women, Laura Segal, argued: “Teachers and parents provide explicit and implicit messages starting in early childhood that boys and men are ‘better’ at math, and the gaps in the professions reinforce the opportunities, culture and lack of role models that perpetuate male dominance”.

Schools and universities have increased initiatives to promote women in STEM since 2012. Previously, female students reported avoiding STEM courses because of a lack of female role models to identify with. If girls were taught about female role models like Marie Curie, for example, who discovered the effects of radiation, perhaps they’d be more inclined to pursue a career in the field.

To tackle this issue, more content around women in STEM has been introduced by exam boards. Rosalind Franklin, a woman central to the understanding of DNA, has been taught across the nation. This has been linked to this year’s A-level results, which saw female students studying STEM courses (50.3%) outnumber male students (49.7%). 


There’s been an increase in funding to fix the STEM gender disparity. Philanthropists have donated $25 million to boost girls’ interest by changing the narrative that they’re masculine careers. It’s expected to inspire other girls to follow other successful women. 

Sadly, it’s been a common theme for women to leave STEM careers due to it being heavily dominated by men, such as the engineering industry. They noted that they had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and to earn respect.

125 female ambassadors were incorporated by Lyda Hill Philanthropists, representing the different STEM career paths. Part of the donation will be used to fund grants for women to study STEM courses.


Research by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that a shortage of STEM workers in the UK is costing around £1.5 billion annually. Apprenticeships have an equal gender balance, yet only nine per cent of STEM apprentices are women.

To overcome this disappointing figure, the UK government is helping women learn more about the opportunities apprenticeships offer to encourage them to pursue STEM. Lookers, who offer a range of motability cars, launched a female apprenticeship scheme back in 2018. The aim is to double the amount of their female apprenticeships and provide a positive environment to encourage and attract women to STEM.

Although it’s disappointing to hear about a gender disparity in today’s age, it’s encouraging to hear about how efforts are being made by many to make room for women in STEM.


Hydrogen car school lesson packs downloaded 10,000 times

A set of teaching resources focusing on hydrogen and fuel cell car technology delivered by Arval UK and launched earlier this year has now been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
Developed in partnership with the Hydrogen Hub project of which Arval is a member, the education pack supports the Chemistry element of Triple Science for GCSE students, providing teachers with a high-quality learning resource that is available free online. 
Arval UK, part of the BNP Paribas banking group, has developed fleet industry-leading expertise through its involvement in the Hydrogen Hub over the last two years. This is a Government-backed project based in Swindon, where the company has its head office, which researches the viability of fuel cell technology for a range of domestic, commercial and transport applications in real world conditions. Arval is Chair of the Car Working Group.
Paul Marchment (pictured, above), Senior Business Manager at Arval UK, who oversees the company’s hydrogen activities, said: “There are now nine company cars operating within the Hydrogen Hub and, supported by funding from BNP Paribas, we’ve been undertaking a comprehensive hydrogen education project this year aimed at schools, businesses and the wider public.
“The lesson plans were launched in March following a successful trial at two Swindon-based schools, Bradon Forest and Nova Hreod Academy. To see that they have now been downloaded 10,000 times is very encouraging indeed.
“We have also been carrying out a series of one-day roadshows around the UK aimed at businesses, local influencers such as politicians and the general public. So far, we have visited Swindon, Oxford, Leeds and Birmingham with London to follow later this year.
“These have been very successful and attended by almost 900 delegates, who have been able to find out about the advantages of hydrogen vehicles and even try out fuel cell cars for themselves. It’s been a valuable exercise.”
Tracey Fuller, Head of CSR for BNP Paribas, added: “As one of the UK’s largest vehicle leasing companies, new vehicle technology is high on our agenda, and an important tool for businesses and individuals looking to reduce their environmental impact. It’s also really well aligned with our commitment to make a positive impact on the UK economy, and wider society, so we saw a great opportunity to use our relationship with the Hydrogen Hub to educate the next generation in the role that hydrogen technology can play.”
The Arval UK teaching resource is available to view and download on the teacher resource website, TES, via the following link
Rory Mathews, Economic Analyst at the Hydrogen Hub, said: “It has been a pleasure to have been given the opportunity by Arval UK to produce this fuel cells lesson pack. I am confident that using our specialist knowledge at the Hydrogen Hub and tailoring the content to cover crucial exam content, we have produced a resource that delivers high quality learning for students and is extremely valuable to teachers.”

Zizo joins University of Buckingham’s Knowledge Exchange Programme

Data analytics for business and logistics specialist Zizo has entered a long-term partnership with the School of Computing at The University of Buckingham, becoming an Academic Partner as part of the school’s Knowledge Exchange Partnership Programme. 

The aim of the partnership is to bring mutual benefits for the school, staff, students and the data analytics industry as a whole, by combining the academic credentials and qualifications from the University of Buckingham with Zizo’s complementary expertise and focus on solving business problems in the data space.

The partnership will involve the research and development of AI-based systems for big data analysis, allowing for the application of academic research to support real-life business challenges that Zizo is working on, with impactful industry outcomes. These opportunities will also enable students to gain from insightful, hands-on work experience in the field, guided by experts from the Zizo team. 

Dr Harin Sellahewa, Dean of Computing at the University of Buckingham comments: “Collaborative partnerships with industry provide unique opportunities for students to benefit from experiential learning. Our aim is to work with Zizo to expose students and postgraduates from the University of Buckingham to the forces that are thriving us as an industry, with business challenges to solve, so that they can go back into the academic environment, and on to future employment, understanding what the hurdles are and how they can be overcome. The partnership exemplifies the School’s commitment to deepen collaborative relationships with businesses in the UK and overseas. The partnership is closely aligned with the National and Local Industrial Strategies and UK’s vision to secure its status as a pioneering nation.” 

Offering undergraduate internships and projects, as well as involving postgraduates on a longer-term basis to delve into complex technical issues, Zizo says it aims to offer interesting, innovative challenges and new opportunities for the students across the university programme.

With pioneering research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, IoT and more led by the University’s School of Computing, Zizo says it will also be able to build upon the strides made in academia and apply industry analysis to strengthen its AI and Machine Learning business propositions further. 

Zizo has already been involved with the students this year in reviewing student projects and providing feedback about the potential business applications of their ideas.

Peter Ruffley, CEO of Zizo, added: “Our partnership with the University, underpinned by its industry-leading research and expertise, will enable us to present our innovative solutions with more authority on cutting edge problems and further push the boundaries of what is possible in the space. It also offers an ideal opportunity to work with students to experiment and build prototype concepts before embarking on a full-scale project. It’s refreshing to mentor undergraduates and postgraduates at university who are motivated and passionate to investigate solutions for tangible business challenges. And with the University’s ground-breaking Computing and AI Centre set to be completed in 2021, we’re excited to see how our partnership can develop even further.

“We want to support the students in being able to realise their potential and prepare for their future careers. We are at the forefront of an industry that is advancing at a rapid pace and this partnership will not only help us to advance our offering as a business, but also work in collaboration with some of the brightest minds to solve unprecedented business challenges.” 

As well as hands-on work with the students, Zizo is additionally sponsoring the award for ‘The Best Final Year Project’ at the University of Buckingham’s End of Year Awards, with Tom Longshaw, Director of Research and Development at Zizo, on the judging panel.

STEM – Is it too late to plug the gender gap?

It may seem like a fairly complex task to sell supply chain and logistics to women – what can we do to encourage more to consider our industry for their career path?

In order to want to fill a job, you must be able to envisage yourself in it first. For a woman, looking at a male dominated industry, it is virtually impossible for them to do so. Therefore, to encourage more women, companies need to have more women — starting at the top. 

For centuries a stereotype has existed around the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) industries. This is perhaps the main reason why the number of women in the industry is still at such a low level. Tragically, despite the stereotype now being incredibly out dated, its presence still lingers. 

Manual labour, long working hours and rows of assembly lines — this is the impression that sticks on most people from outside the industry. So much so, a survey carried out by Women in Manufacturing (WiM) found that almost three quarters of women would not consider a career in manufacturing as a viable option.

In 2018, the FTSE 100 was able to report an increase in female held directorships. Despite the number of female executive directorships remaining the same between 2017 and 2018, directorships rose from 294 to 305, a rise of 1.3%. Out of these 100 companies, those in the construction and building sector only featured twice. 

The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineer professionals in Europe, with countries such as Cyprus having nearly three times as many women in similar roles. 

This article will focus on women’s relationship with the STEM and manufacturing industries. 

Untapped Industry

The first point worth considering when assessing why more women are moving into the industry is how much on an untapped one it is. A 2016 survey found how manufacturing had the largest pool of untapped talent, simply because there were very few women in the roles previously. Not only is there an abundance of female staff available, they are also highly qualified, most possessing not only a bachelor’s but a supplementary master’s degree.

Unfortunately, 51 per cent of women who are employed within this area have commented on how they have been treated worse, simply due to their gender. This moves away from stereotypes however and into a dangerous position of discrimination. Women being in these roles has proved to be beneficial not only in plugging the gender gap, but also for the company’s profitability themselves. Research suggest that every 10 per cent increase in gender diversity relates to a 3.5 percent increase in gross profit.

Managing director of Hilti, Marci Bonham proposes, ‘that supporting women as they take their first management steps within the industry will have a positive impact overall.’  

The Shine Theory

The workplace can be a hard place for anyone starting new, but for a woman starting off in a new role surrounded by mainly men — well the aforementioned stats speak for themselves. This is where Shine Theory comes into play and it carries significant relevance to women trying to crack the heavily dominated male industries.

The shine theory focuses on how much women can succeed if they were to befriend other females in the work place, as opposed to battling against them. Effectively, this American concept emphasises how surrounding yourself with positive and successful women will create a positive atmosphere within. 

Development from an early age

A Guardian study from 2018 found that women constitute only 14.4% of all people working in STEM in the UK, despite the fact they make-up almost half of the work force. The best way of encouraging this, is to establish more prominent idol like figures within these subject areas. 

Take for example Brian Cox, it is easier for young boys interested in getting into physics to relate to him. Alternatively, Donna Strickland as physicist from Canada, became only the third woman ever to win the Nobel Prize award for her science. Her name, along with others who achieved spectacular heights needs to be promoted throughout kids of a young age.

This is not to detract from the unimaginable advancements which have been made. In 1918 women over earned the right to vote, while women being accredited for such contributions to science as Donna Strickland, is certainly a recent development.

The rise of Apprenticeships 

The statistics for the sectors women are choosing to carry out apprenticeships in doesn’t bode well in supporting this plug of the gender gap. This highlights that the traditional degree route isn’t for everyone and apprenticeships are gaining popularity once again. With this in mind, we assess two companies who are pushing to increase their number of female apprenticeships:


One of Centrica’s Top 100 employers, the national motor retailer Lookers, retailers of Commercial Ford vehicles, launched its female apprentice network last year. The scheme is based around setting up regular meetings between female apprentices, providing them with the opportunity to share their new-found knowledge and experiences.

British Gas

The energy provider has placed emphasis on getting women to apply for their apprenticeship scheme by offering examples of applicants with examples of some of their highest achieving female members of staff. They similarly draw upon the fact, that by putting more women into male dominated apprenticeships, the gender pay gap is likely to be bridged.  


Davies Turner trainee recruitment programme enters 10th year

The trainee recruitment programme operated by UK freight forwarder and logistics company Davies Turner has entered its 10th year.

The latest group of recruits for its 2019 training scheme recently completed their initial induction programme at the company’s regional distribution centre at Coleshill in the UK.

The Davies Turner training scheme, which includes both BIFA-accredited and in-house training in its wide-ranging and multimodal freight services, as well as its international logistics operations, is designed to offer a foundation in all elements of the forwarding industry.

The new trainees will learn all aspects of Davies Turner’s multimodal business during the training scheme, which started this month, and – subject to performance and practical experience – they will have the opportunity to progress into management and supervisory roles.

During the training programme participants spend time in all surface freight and logistics divisions, in addition to gaining an overview at Davies Turner Air Cargo, central administration, IT and the company’s accounts department.

Once again, this year, Davies Turner has also recruited additional trainees separately to the group training scheme who will receive training specialising in one area of the company’s business, such as overland trailer services, ocean freight or third party logistics. 

Davies Turner Group Chairman, Philip Stephenson, said: “Although training and apprenticeships for graduates and A-level school-leavers wishing to follow a career in freight forwarding and logistics are firmly back on the agenda in the UK following the recent introduction of the Apprentice Levy as well as the Trailblazer and Government Apprenticeship schemes, Davies Turner has always been ahead of the curve on this important issue.  We need to recruit and train good all-rounders to safeguard the long term future development of the company as well as benefitting their own career satisfaction”.

“We are now in the tenth year of investing in our own comprehensive training programme and I’m pleased to report that most of the more than 100 trainees that we have recruited over the last decade are still working within the company, which I attribute to our mentoring system and determination to challenge trainees with interesting and responsible career opportunities at the end of their two years learning with us.”

Logistics facing ‘time bomb’ skills deficit

A ‘time bomb’ of logistics skills deficits could bring the whole nation to a grinding halt, according to a new report.

The research, published by specialist recruitment and development company Talent In Logistics, reveals that only eight percent of young people consider the sector to be an attractive career option, while an astounding 42 percent don’t even know what logistics is.

And, with only nine percent of the current logistics workforce under the age of 25, the report says there’s a likelihood of a severe skills deficit in the future.

500 students and teachers attending the WorldSkills UK Live exhibition took part in the Talent In Logistics research in November 2018, which also reveals significant concerns around diversity, career opportunities and salary.

The research triggered the commissioning of a white paper,’ Changing Perceptions: Attracting Young Talent Into Logistics’, highlighting the extent of the damage and providing insight to help businesses attract and retain millennials.

Key findings included:

  • A quarter (26 percent) of the young people quizzed said they do not believe there is gender diversity within the logistics sector
  • Only 18 percent have been spoken to at school or Sixth Form about logistics as a career path

Many of those polled were also unaware of the range of roles available within logistics, which can range from facilities managers and data analysts to freight co-ordinators and materials planners.

“The perception of logistics is arguably the biggest problem facing the sector when trying to recruit new talent,” said Ruth Edwards, business manager of Talent In Logistics.

“As an organisation we want to promote the importance of recruiting talent from groups that are currently under-represented in the logistics industry.

“It’s only by future-proofing the nation’s currently thriving logistics sector that we can keep the UK moving.”

Talent In Logistics says that while driver shortages and skills gaps are already taking their toll, the biggest hurdle is the sector’s ageing population and the lack of millennials coming up through the ranks to replace them.

Edwards concluded: “We are calling upon the sector and the education system to play their part in ensuring young people are aware of the many amazing opportunities and career paths available within logistics.”

A full copy of the report ca be downloaded below.

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay