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Clerks ahoy because Brussels is biting

PUBLISHED: 17:47 26 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

EUROPEAN law may mean gaping shortages in the number of shipping import and export clerks and lorry drivers over the next five years.

The shipping industry at Felixstowe, Ipswich and Harwich is bracing itself for problems, partly due to new European restrictions on working hours.

EUROPEAN law may mean gaping shortages in the number of shipping import and export clerks and lorry drivers over the next five years.

The shipping industry at Felixstowe, Ipswich and Harwich is bracing itself for problems, partly due to new European restrictions on working hours.

There is currently a 21 per cent shortfall in the number of shipping clerks needed by local companies and it is feared this could worsen to 52pc by 2008.

The haulage industry is also expecting to be hit hard by the EC Working Hours Directive, which will severely limit the hours truckers can be on the road.

The Haven Gateway Partnership (HGP) is about to make a major step forward to help tackle the problems with its drive to improve skills and training.

The partnership of ports, councils and other organisations involved with the haven ports is appointing a training and development project manager who will create and establish the Team Haven training initiative.

Some 25,000 people are employed in the shipping and logistics sector locally but there are shortages of skilled personnel, and the issue of training and education has become a crucial one if the problem is not to get worse.

Team Haven, funded by the East of England Development Agency, aims to research and boost training and education at all levels, from basic skills to managerial programmes.

It will identify high-quality training resources, approving courses and trainers; explore recruitment methods, including working with careers officers to attract school leavers, and researching IT and alternative methods of training.

"The new manager will speak to people in the industry to understand their problems and their needs, and try to match these with training providers including schools, colleges and universities," said Alfred Reeves, chairman of the HGP education and training group.

"Most of the big companies have their own training programmes in place, but the majority of companies are very small; some might have only five people in the office and they can't afford for someone to go out for two days to learn.

"The way round this is to provide more flexible training – in the evenings, on-line, via CD-Rom, or partly in the office and partly in college. We need to find out what the industry wants and build on that.

"Equally, the challenge for the industry is how we can attract people into shipping and logistics. We have to concentrate on the positives and show how exciting this business is – and it is an exciting industry to work in.

"The pool of expertise is shrinking. People in the industry are getting older. We need to attract in new blood, explain the career opportunities, and focus on the training needs of the whole sector."


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