UK express distribution network Palletforce is leading the way in tackling the sector’s growing skills shortage, by doubling its commitment to recruit young apprentices.

The Burton-based company already has a robust apprenticeship scheme in place, but is now one of the few in the pallet industry to have already taken advantage of the new Apprenticeship Levy, boosting its intake of both office and depot staff.

The Levy, introduced by the government in April this year, enables companies with a PAYE bill in excess of £3m to pay into a communal fund which is then used to fund apprenticeship training.

Palletforce is now set to enrol 10 young people into its Forklift Truck Driver’s Academy annually. Apprentices currently make up over 10 per cent of FLT drivers at the company’s new SuperHub, recently opened by HRH Princess Royal.

Three apprentices have also been taken on in admin, IT and accountancy positions at Palletforce’s head office.

According to Palletforce CEO, Michael Conroy, the key to addressing the skills shortage is attracting young people to the industry.

“A lot of companies see apprenticeships as a way of upskilling their existing workforce,” he said. “While there is nothing wrong with this in theory, it does nothing to solve the problem of an ageing workforce and training a new generation in the necessary skills.

“The FLT Academy is a good example of Palletforce’s long-term commitment to encouraging young people into the logistics sector, which it critical to its survival as a career choice.”

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