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2024: The Year of Warehousing

25 October 2023

2024 will mark the 80th anniversary of UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), since its inception as the National Association of Inland Warehouse Keepers, in 1944.

TO CELEBRATE this achievement, the Association will be rolling out ‘2024: The Year of Warehousing’, a campaign to promote the sector, highlight the role of warehousing in the supply chain as well as its importance to the UK economy, while showcasing the diverse career opportunities the industry has to offer.

Taking this message to the regions, UKWA CEO Clare Bottle will be travelling around the UK, visiting 80 warehouses across the year, from major operators to SMEs, in multiple locations, taking a look at the latest technology in action and talking to warehouse operators about issues that affect the sector, from people and skills to the cost-of-living, automation to renewable energy.

New Warehouse Management CPC

LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report found that 92% of UK organisations are concerned about employee retention, concluding that ‘Providing learning opportunities and flexible work arrangements are the top ways UK employers improve retention, followed by opportunities for mentoring or coaching.’ This is without doubt a top priority for many employers in the warehousing and logistics sector, where labour and skills shortages have long been a challenge, and are now critical, with the lowest youth unemployment rates for decades and tougher immigration regulations post-Brexit.

A recent report from Prologis revealed that the things that logistics workers value most about their jobs are the above average earnings and strong opportunities for career progression. This is particularly relevant in an industry where 63% of warehouse managers don’t have a university degree. We hear from young people too, that career development is a key consideration when choosing employment, and for those already working within the sector, the opportunity to widen their skill set and achieve promotion is also cited as important. Last year’s LinkedIn report found that employees who feel their companies aren’t using their skills well, are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job.

The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for people to grow and develop in the logistics sector, regardless of background and education. It is a socially mobile working environment where workers who started out picking and packing routinely rise to more senior roles through experience on the job. However, many have never received any formal training for their role and therefore may not be performing to the very best of their ability.

So, to launch our ‘Year of Warehousing’, UKWA will be unveiling its new Warehouse Manager CPC. Delivered by independent consultants and accredited by CILT, this valuable course is designed to provide a recognised qualification that supports employee development and is set to become an industry standard, like the existing Transport Manager CPC.

New conditions of contract

For many warehouse operators, our ‘gold standard’ Conditions of Contract, drawn up by our honorary legal advisors Aaron & Partners, are a key benefit of UKWA membership. These industry standard terms of storage provide robust protection for members, have been tested and proven in court, and are recognised by many insurance companies.

Aaron’s has reviewed and updated our UKWA Conditions of Contract, and the latest version will be available to members from 2024.

Solar support

Since our landmark report into the benefits and barriers of solar PV on warehouse rooftops in 2022, UKWA has led the way in promoting the massive opportunity to embrace solar power, drive down electricity costs and secure supply, while reducing carbon emissions on the journey to Net Zero.

In 2022, we produced a practical Toolkit for UKWA members considering embarking on installation of solar power – we will be updating this and re-launching it in 2024.

UKWA CEO Clare Bottle sits on the Rooftop Subgroup of the government’s Solar Taskforce, established to drive forward the actions needed by government and industry to meet the solar deployment ambition of 70 gigawatts by 2035. Clare represents the voice of the sector on topics including the availability of finance and the complexity of stakeholder relationships.

The first UKWA Solar Showcase was held in September 2023. Dedicated to solar retrofit for warehouse rooftops, our sell-out conference brought together relevant trade associations, as well as expert speakers to pool knowledge and share expertise on solar projects – from installation and maintenance to finance and insurance. The event also saw the launch of a new member benefit in the form of a legal guidance document for warehouse tenants considering solar rooftop systems, written by our legal partner Weightmans. The guidance details different scenarios and potential issues that warehouse occupiers should consider before entering into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), with a generator (the company typically funding and arranging for the installation of the solar cells), and where a lease or sub-lease of the air space above the warehouse is required.

We will be convening another Solar Showcase in September 2024, and looking to introduce consumer-friendly energy agreements, which will make the process of energy projects easier and quicker, while providing more certainty as members embark on their solar journey.

Year of Warehousing 2024

In an extraordinary year of celebrations, UKWA’s popular calendar of networking events will include its National Conference, a UKWA Parliamentary Reception in the House of Commons, a special commemorative Annual Lunch & Awards for Excellence, and our Annual Parliamentary Luncheon at the House of Lords. In addition, UKWA will be holding a Solar Showcase and a series of regional roadshows, as well as an 80th Anniversary Charity Golf Day.

The Year of Warehousing was announced at the UKWA Parliamentary Luncheon at the House of Lords in October 2023, where warehouse owners and operators were invited to take part by submitting the case for their facility to be one of the 80 chosen for a visit from UKWA’s Clare Bottle.

Key Events for 2024

  • 12-13 March – UKWA National Conference, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham
  • 23 April – UKWA Parliamentary Reception, House of Commons, London
  • 10 July – UKWA Annual Lunch & Awards for Excellence, Royal Lancaster, London
  • September – UKWA Solar Showcase, more details soon
  • October – UKWA Parliamentary Luncheon, House of Lords, London