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West Suffolk College is one of just seven nationally to join forces with The Career Colleges Trust and STC International in Rotterdam in launching a pioneering network of specialist logistics colleges.

The aim of the initiative – being launched today to coincide with Maritime Careers Week - is to provide young people with the skills they need to access careers in this exciting sector, while supporting the logistics industry to continue its rapid expansion through the post-Covid 19 economic recovery.

West Suffolk College are the only college in the region to be involved in the scheme and join the following FE Colleges: Hugh Baird, South Essex, West Herts, City of Bristol, Eastleigh and Coleg Gwent. The college will offer new Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Logistics and International Supply Chain Management, which have been developed by the Career Colleges Trust and Open Awards.

A number of specialist logistics experts including those from the STC Group, DHL, Logistics UK and Maersk have been involved with the development of the new qualification, ensuring that every element of the curriculum is relevant to the logistics industry.

The new provision will be delivered to students via a blended learning approach, in partnership with STC International – a specialist Port Logistics college based in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  Students will take part in collaborative learning and both virtual and face-to-face teaching, with the opportunity to take part in study visits to Rotterdam and work experience placements.

Joint CEO of the Career Colleges Trust, Mark Silverman, said: “This is an exciting time for the Career College network and I am delighted with the support we have had from this forward-thinking group of FE Colleges.

“Logistics is a rapidly expanding industry, offering a wide range of careers that many young people are not even aware of. As the economy begins to recover post-Covid, it is vital that we work with industry to focus on growing sectors, identifying new skills gaps and exciting employment opportunities.

“Our link with Dutch logistics training experts, STC, is hugely beneficial, helping students, staff and employers in our cluster to remain connected to the EU. This initiative highlights that connections with our European economy can and will continue as we move forward.”

The logistics sector is growing rapidly, driven partly by the pandemic. It offers a wide variety of careers including project management and digital technology-based roles (including AI and robotics) as well as international development and customer service opportunities. Currently employing over two million people in the UK, the logistics sector is expecting skills shortages to increase dramatically over the next five years. There is a lack of young talent at all levels, with businesses reporting a declining number of applications for logistics specialists, as well as dispatchers and transport service managers are also being in demand.

Gary Jefferson, Executive Director, Engineering and Technology at West Suffolk College, said: “We are excited to be one of only seven colleges nationally, to have been approved as a Careers College in Logistics. We understand the importance of building partnerships with our regions employers to ensure they get the skills they need to prosper and our students benefit from outstanding employer engagement opportunities, so they graduate being work ready and have the best foundation possible to build their future careers.”

As an established provider of specialist logistics skills training, STC International is offering a wide range of expertise to the new Career Colleges network. Director Albert Bos, added: “We are very excited to join Career Colleges and to team up with FE colleges around the United Kingdom. It is a great honour to be part of such a great initiative.

“We are delighted that what was initially just a courtesy visit almost three years ago has resulted in such an important partnership with the Career Colleges Trust.

“Helping to create a bigger and brighter future for young people is both important and rewarding. We look forward to being a part of their development, helping to open up exciting international logistics career pathways for the next generation.”