By Daniel Hunter

A Northamptonshire based scheme designed to match businesses with a relevant skilled workforce and get people back into work celebrated success today (Wednesday).

A new intake of 12 new recruits will work towards a logistics qualification involving skills training, practical hands-on experience and a guaranteed interview at the end of the programme. For those who are offered positions, the scheme provides the opportunity to obtain a full Category C Licence.

The initiative is the result of a collaboration in which Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership’s Job Broker service brought together key partners to develop a tailored programme of support to maximise employment opportunities.

Commenting on the scheme, Peter Schofield, Director General, Neighbourhoods, Department for Communities and Local Government, said: "On my recent visit to Kettering, I heard direct from a business that had benefited from the Job Broker service and how well this approach works to match employers with vacancies with potential employees. This is exactly the kind of creative thinking that happens when you let local businesses and communities develop the solutions that are right for these areas."

The Job Broker team at NEP worked with key partners including Jobcentre Plus, Tresham College and leading Northamptonshire based logistics company Knights of Old. All parties worked together to create a sector based work academy - a highly practical approach designed to train jobseekers with relevant skills to meet the specific needs of an employer.

This is the second year that the scheme has run and on-hand to welcome the new recruits to Kettering-based, Knights of Old, were two of last year’s successful candidates, Ian Walton and Ian Merritt. They have both successfully gained their LGV licences as a result of the scheme and have gained full time positions at Knights of Old as a result of the work academy.

Logistics represents a major growth sector in Northamptonshire. With 1,400 logistics and transport businesses currently operating in the county, Northamptonshire is the UK’s leading logistics and transport hub, employing over 27,000 people. With an enviable regional infrastructure with dedicated rail and air freight terminals and easy access to the M1 and A14, the county is ideally situated for supply operations and continues to attract inward investment from companies such as BMW, Advanced Supply Chain and Pets at Home.

Jo Stewart, Job Broker for NEP explains: “Northamptonshire’s logistics sector is an incredibly important industry to the Northamptonshire economy and this progressive, sector based approach has been highly successful. It highlights what can be achieved from strong working relationships between NEP, the Jobcentre and local academic institutions and businesses. We are actively looking to expand this scheme to other sectors and would be delighted to hear from other Northamptonshire companies who may wish to get involved in this tailored approach.”

Nick Bithell, Human Resources Manager, Knights of Old said: “We were delighted to work with NEP and partners; the combination of training and site experience has delivered exactly what we required. It has saved us valuable time and trained candidates in the skills they needed enabling them to get up and running very quickly. All last year’s candidates show great potential and we are confident this is just the start of a strong career for them in logistics.”

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