Back to School Report – What to expect in the months ahead from UKWA Chief Executive Peter Ward

September 4, 2017

As business returns to full swing after the summer holiday season UKWA is ready and prepared to hit the ground running, expecting a very busy period between now and Christmas.   There are no less than 15 events in our team calendar during September and October, such is the level of engagement of the association in the topical issues of our industry.

One of the key issues for our industry is the impending skills shortage, and as we go about promoting the logistics sector to the youngsters as a stimulating career option, I encourage our members to play their part in a collaborative drive to professionalise the sector.  As witnessed by those attending our Annual Lunch at The Dorchester recently – and what a great day that was – the quality and quantity of entries into the Awards this year provided clear evidence of the benefits for those companies that are taking the education agenda seriously.

It is also the time of year when government resumes after the parliamentary recess, and we are now seeing some clear signs of the Brexit negotiations gathering some momentum.

With some caution we have welcomed the government’s positioning paper regarding the customs union.  I am particularly pleased that the government, and the media, are at long last appearing to understand that, although intrinsically linked, the single market and the customs union are separate entities.  This apparent misapprehension has been a source of great frustration since last year’s referendum, and the breakthrough is credit to UKWA and the other leading trade associations and business organisations, who from a knowledgeable and informed basis, have been able to provide guidance to the policy makers.

While many of us were resistant to the idea of Brexit prior to the referendum last year, we are now faced with a brave new world and we will be working closely with government to ensure the voice of the industry is heard.

The opportunity for the future to be shaped by those of us working at the ‘coal face’ is a key message in our own positioning paper that was published in August,  raising  awareness of the impact of Brexit on those members handling excise goods.

The hectic schedule of events ahead includes a number of Advisory Board meetings, which provide the opportunity for members to discuss pertinent issues such as Customs and Excise, Real Estate and Technology – not just in the context of Brexit, but in our overall quest to identify and share best practice.

The next few months will be busy and challenging. My message to members and to the wider logistics community is to engage with your trade association and seize this unique opportunity to help shape the outcomes of Brexit as well as the future of our industry.