The logistics and supply chain sector is set to benefit from a dedicated new training and research facility that has been developed through a partnership between industry and education based at the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’ at GLP’s Magna Park development in Lutterworth. The Centre for Logistics Education and Research (CLEAR) will help the sector to address key challenges as the UK moves towards economic recovery and renewed growth following the coronavirus pandemic.

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) is working in collaboration with Aston University, Wincanton, supply chain partner, and leading investor and developer of logistics warehouses and distribution parks, GLP to provide skills training and professional development at all levels across the spectrum of logistics and supply chain roles, to enable the sector to become increasingly agile, flexible and resilient. CLEAR is due to launch in the summer of 2021 and will initially be based Bittesby House within the Magna Park Northern extension within the broader Magna Park Lutterworth development, eventually moving to a bespoke, state of the art facility.

The ambitions of the centre were revealed to industry at a webinar last month with speakers hosted by Richard Atkinson CBE, Teaching Fellow, Leadership, Strategy, Engagement at Aston University and including NWSLC’s Principal and Chief Executive, Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Professor Edward Sweeney from Aston University, and Dean Clamp, who is Group HSEQ Director for Wincanton and a board member of the Chartered Institute for Logistics and Transport (CILT).

Outlining the challenges currently faced by the sector, Professor Edward Sweeney commented on the central role of skills development within logistics and supply chain in helping the UK to retain its leading role in the sector. He said, “Operating within a highly competitive environment with the challenges of harnessing new technology and ‘big data’ across businesses of all sizes in a changing political and environmental context requires a highly skilled and professional workforce. The aim is that working closely with industry, CLEAR will be ideally positioned to address its needs and provide skills training and development opportunities that are tailor-made for the sector.”

Marion Plant said, “Our ambitions for CLEAR are based on offering a holistic one-stop-shop training service both from its base at Magna Park and also remotely online, enabling a flexible skills pathway tailored to meet the needs of specific businesses and providing individuals with well-defined opportunities to progress their careers.

“Businesses can train one or many members of their team with flexible start dates and bespoke provision and students will be able to move seamlessly between training partners as their development needs progress and skills gaps are identified, improving retention, and driving down costs.

“CLEAR can get training programmes up and running very quickly as it already has systems in place to fulfil training design briefs at all levels. Commissioning training through CLEAR will bring shorter lead times between the identification of training needs and students starting their courses or programmes. Businesses can also benefit from advice on funding for apprenticeships, whether organisations pay the Apprenticeship Levy or not, and can find out how levy-payers can share funds to support training across their supply chain.”

Dean Clamp, Group HSEQ Director at Wincanton said, “Over the last twelve months we have seen how much the UK relies on the ability of its logistics and supply chain operators to keep the shelves stocked in the essential retail outlets that have remained open during lockdown. As clients demand increased efficiencies, higher safety standards and greater sustainability, we need to act smarter as a sector and make sure that we are attracting, developing and retaining the highly skilled individuals on which our business relies.”

Also commenting GLP Planning Director Gwyn Stubbings said, “As the UK and Europe’s largest and most successful dedicated logistics park, it is fantastic to be able to deliver CLEAR within that environment. This is a truly pioneering and exciting initiative that is focused on logistics led the research, innovation, education, and training at the heart of Magna Park.

“Situated as part of the Magna Park Northern expansion, CLEAR provides students and businesses with the opportunity to immerse themselves in Magna Park as the ‘classroom’ and be an integral part of the ongoing growth and evolution of Magna Park into the UK’s top logistics cluster.”

Magna Park Lutterworth, the UK and Europe’s premier logistics hub, developed by GLP over the past 30 years is currently home to over 27 blue chip businesses within 33 buildings. The Park extends to over 10 million square feet of floor space and will expand to 16 million square feet over 1,350 acres via the Northern and Southern expansion project.  It is centrally located within the so-called “logistics golden triangle’ between the M1, M6 and M69 motorways.

The first phase of provision, commencing when CLEAR opens its doors this summer, will provide the platform for a future national centre of excellence with a campus that will accommodate, when fully operational, up to 1,000 students as well as providing applied research and associated facilities.

Businesses that are interested in finding out more about should get in touch via CLEAR@nwslc.ac.uk.