Protecting our sector through investment in the future

In April the new National Living Wage came into force for employees over the age of 25. As you will be aware, FWD has been working hard over recent months to highlight the impact the NLW will have on wholesalers and the steps they will have to take to meet the cost increases that have been imposed on them by Government.

James Bielby, FWD Chief ExecutiveWhile we’re hopeful that we can slow the timescale for the proposed NLW rate rises, our members will still need to make efficiencies and sacrifices to in order to pay the new rates. FWD’s research on employment and NLW in the wholesale sector shows clearly that it will have an impact on profitability, which has the potential to limit the scope for investment for the future.

It is vital that learning and development is not put at risk by the introduction of the NLW. Investing in people, helping them to acquire the skills that will serve them and the industry well over the course of a career, is absolutely vital for the future success of the wholesale channel. At FWD we want to help the wholesale sector identify and develop talent and offer high-skilled, sustainable careers.

That’s why earlier this year we launched an initiative designed to stimulate investment in people. Thanks to some long-term planning, FWD has built up a significant Fellowship Fund, which can be used by members to halve the cost of external training courses. Our training bursary match-funds wholesalers’ own investments, with five grants of up to £2,500 per trainee available, which is equivalent to £12,500 per member. This is a fantastic resource and a significant benefit of FWD membership, and we are delighted to be able to offer this to all wholesaler members.

The fund’s trustees have already approved grants for part-funding of an MSc in Human Resources, an Administrative Assistant Diploma and practical line management training. One foodservice distributor has secured funding for five of its staff to attend a management development course – that’s a huge investment in the future, not only of the company but of our entire sector, made possible by the foresight and generosity of a previous generation of FWD members.

At the same time we are keeping up our discussion with Government about its support for training, particularly of young people. We are helping members to work through the implications of the new Apprenticeship levy, while showing Ministers how much effort our members put into nurturing and developing apprentices, helping to set them up for rewarding careers in wholesale. In November, we will once again be taking some of the industry’s brightest stars to the House of Commons and introducing them to their MPs and demonstrating wholesaler investment in skills, training and apprenticeships.

Just as wholesalers need to recruit, train, retain and incentivise the best talent available, suppliers in this relationship-driven channel need to ensure that they too put their ambitious, inventive new arrivals in the right roles. Our Supplier Council has a work group dedicated to attracting and nurturing new and emerging talent on both sides. It is working on a blueprint for an induction process which would see new starters introduced to the wholesale channel through advice from sector ambassadors, work placements and job swaps, and study tours of wholesalers’ premises and their customers’ businesses.

The group is also working on a marketing campaign which will sell the wholesale sector to graduates and those working in other routes to market within suppliers. It is unlike any other channel and requires its own set of skills and a broad knowledge of thousands of diverse retail and foodservice businesses. But it offers immense opportunities for those who absorb themselves in it, and as many who have built their careers in wholesale will agree, it’s a hugely rewarding and enjoyable place to work.

 Learn more about the FWD Training Bursary here

 

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03/11/2016 - National Recognition for FWD apprentices and trainees
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12/02/2016 - Wholesalers will struggle to absorb National Living Wage rises
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