The warehousing and logistics industry is facing a shortage of qualified Lift Truck Instructors which could lead to safety issues in forklift operations, according to training accreditor RTITB.
“The lack of lift truck operators and warehouse staff is a frequently discussed problem. However, many in the industry are overlooking the significant Instructor skills shortage,” says Laura Nelson, managing director for RTITB. “These two issues are connected. Without enough dedicated, qualified instructors, it will be impossible to fill the skills gap.”
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, 50% fewer Lift Truck Instructor examinations took place compared to the previous year, creating a shortage of instructors that the industry is still recovering from.
Later, as pandemic restrictions around training eased, a backlog of forklift operator training had to be addressed. The need to train operators remains high, with 9,365 forklift operator roles currently advertised by organisations looking to fill these positions in May 2022.
With fewer Instructors qualifying, there have been longer waits for operator training. One national logistics provider informed RTITB that current waiting times for training are approximately 10-12 weeks in certain areas for popular machine types. Instructor courses at the same company currently have a lead time of up to five weeks. It is clear that the instructor shortage is still preventing roles from being filled as quickly as needed.
“Without a skilled Instructor available, there is always a risk that businesses will just ‘show the ropes’ to trainee operators. This does not prove compliance in the event of an incident. More importantly, it does not pass on the required skills and safety standards,” says Nelson. “Even a highly experienced forklift operator may be sharing years of bad habits with a novice operator or could just be a terrible teacher.”