Jerry Oughton has been appointed as UKWA’s Head of Training. The new role reflects the commitment of the Association to placing skills training and personal development at the heart of a wider strategy to attract more young people into the industry, says UKWA CEO Clare Bottle.
“This year’s National Conference was focused on ‘Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today’ to address the top concern cited by our members, namely the industry’s critical labour shortage and skills gap. We brought together expert speakers from across many influencers and stakeholders, including government, recruitment specialists, charities and sector bodies committed to developing talent in and for the industry. All spoke of the importance – and opportunities – for education and training in attracting employees in a highly competitive marketplace. Delegates even heard directly from recent graduates that structured training and a clear development path was key to their choice of employment,” she says. “Accordingly, UKWA will be placing increased emphasis on training to support our members in recruiting and retaining workers. Jerry’s appointment marks the beginning of our exciting new plans in this arena.”
Jerry’s philosophy is one of lifelong learning. He has led a varied career that has taken him all over the world, from working in hospitality to serving in the Army’s Royal Logistics Corps, as well as teaching at a college of Further Education, and providing training for young offenders. Jerry says he learned through his many experiences, gaining an MSc in IT and an MBA in later life. Accordingly, he is passionate about communicating the many different routes to employment alongside formal education and believes that embracing diversity will be central to meeting the industry’s recruitment challenges.
His role as Head of Training at UKWA will include working with established partners and new training providers, seeking to build new relationships, both to develop training and qualifications in line with members’ needs, as well as promoting opportunities in the industry and widening the recruitment net.
“Groups such as ex-offenders, those who are neurodiverse and disabled people are underrepresented in the workplace, yet they are often excellent prospective candidates for employment,” he said. “In this country our record is poor, with just 3% of disabled workers and 22% of neurodiverse individuals in employment across the UK. I’m keen to address this within our sector, encouraging employers to provide the necessary training to workers from all backgrounds, and making sure those groups are aware of the fantastic opportunities in warehousing and logistics.”