Winter Lecture: Up for debate?
Never a Corps to shy away from tackling the trickiest of subjects, this years Royal Logistic Corps winter lecture took on the form of a paneled discussion on the topic “A2020 and the Reserves… will it work?”. Chaired by Col Richard Hunt CBE (Chairman of London Ambulance Service), the panel of leading civilian employers from Carillion, Association of British Ports, Wilson Jones Ltd and BP, were given the opportunity to vent some of their frustrations and indeed, offer constructive advice on the MOD’s approach to the Reserve challenge.
The MOD “offer” came in for the largest criticism. “I’m a business, I’m looking for a deal not an offer” said Lt Col Gary Sullivan, a Reservist and Chairman of Wilson Jones Ltd. “The MOD doesn’t understand the complexity of the deal. If I wish to give special arrangements for my Reservist staff what about those I employ who are or wish to be retained fire fighters, RNLI personnel or even staff who wish to serve their country and community by running local youth groups”.
Mr Mike Hood, HR Director BP, agreed “our BP policy is generous but why should a manager of a drilling rig let his better operators and supervisors go unless he gets someone else back” an view echoed by Maj Michelle Tilley, a Reservist and Director of Quality and Compliance at ABP “In construction, we contract out most of our non-core jobs, those that are left are often safety critical. In order to facilitate one of these individuals being a Reservist, I would have to increase my workforce to ensure these tasks are legally covered. I would also have to consult the Unions for changes to contracts.”
It was also highlighted that in our Global market place, large corporate companies might be owned by foreign investors and shareholders, possibly from China or the Middle East, who may not be willing to support the notion of Reservists in their workforce.
When the debate was opened to the floor, it was agreed that the key is to facilitate a two way flow of skill and talent. Lt Col Naomi Wakelin proposed a scheme where gaps in industry could be filled by military personnel in return for Reservist person flowing from industry to military when required. Chairman Col Richard Hunt emphasized the need for military qualifications to be aligned with civilian qualifications “it may cost the MOD a little more, but civilian organisations can not legally accept many military qualifications as equivalent”. As the market leader in logistic professional qualifications, this is perhaps a barrier that the RLC can seek to dismantle.
A2020 and the Reserves… will it work? Potentially yes, but we need to better understand each others business first.