Home >Logistics Skills Academy shut down amid acrimony with millions of pounds lost

Logistics Skills Academy shut down amid acrimony with millions of pounds lost

03 December 2013

The National Skills Academy Logistics (NSAL) has been closed by its National Employer Board (NEB) members after the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), a partner organisation of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills withdrew funding.

The SFA said in a statement: "We asked NSAL to submit a revised delivery plan to address concerns we had raised against it achieving its three-year delivery plan targets. Following assessment of the revised plan, the agency’s decision was to not support, and we understand that NSAL will now cease operation.”

The NSAL, which is governed by employers via its NEB, was established to help employers with their training needs and inquiries. Skills for Logistics bid for the funding of the Academy from the SFA when it launched in 2011, and provided support to the NEB as it worked with the Skills Funding Agency to develop the Academy.  

The Academy was separate to Skills for Logistics with its own board and management but SfL is its largest creditor. SfL could not confirm how much money it lost in the venture as the Academy is still in the liquidation process.

It is estimated that at least £6.5m of public and employer money has been lost. When it was launched in October 2011, the Academy received £3.25m of government funding, which was to be matched by employers from the industry.

Skills and training consultant Michael Woodgate said the failure of the Academy was symptomatic of the failure of Skills for Logistics to correctly define its role.

He said: "The lazy answer is simply to assume that the way to improve people’s skills is to train them, so what the sector needs, and what SfL needs to develop and promote, is a range of "training solutions”. If these can be funded, so much the better.

"This has led the organisation down a series of blind alleys, producing a series of solutions all desperately searching for problems, none of which has left a lasting legacy. 

"The latest debacle has been the Logistics Academy. This was set up at huge public expense to deal with two questions that were not being asked – "where can I, an employer, find training” and "where can I, a provider, get some more business”. As a result the Academy entered a busy, functioning market with no USP to differentiate it from the other major players already operating and its loss of funding was the inevitable result.”

The NEB for the National Skills Academy Logistics acknowledged that the Skills Funding Agency was unhappy with the way that the NSAL executive team ran the Academy.


Read this recent blog on the HSS website from skills and training consultant Michael Woodgate as he explains where he believes the Academy went wrong.

It said in a statement: "Despite establishing a strong provider base, and the equally strong support and encouragement of the NEB members, engagement with the Logistics Industry was poor and the NSAL struggled to demonstrate that it could be sustainable.”

The employers involved with the scheme also hit out at the Skills Funding Agency to failing to respond positively to attempts by the NEB and Skills for Logistics to salvage the scheme.

Its statement continued: "The SFA was happy with the Academy’s NEB and invited us to resubmit an employer backed business plan in March, with a view that we would continue the Academy.

"The NEB carried out a lot of work, supported by Skills for Logistics, to reshape the Academy, while working to continue with existing operations.

"The SFA continually missed deadlines and repeatedly changed their minds before confirming there were no further funds.

"The NEB, as a group of unpaid volunteers, have been let down by the SFA and we are unhappy with the way we have been treated. We strongly believe that the NSAL experience should be taken as a lesson to other employers who give their time to government based initiatives on a free and voluntary basis.”

The Skills Funding Agency responded: "The Agency's priority is to work with NSAL and the Sector Skills Council (Skills for Logistics), over the next few months, to ensure that any learners and apprentices are supported by their current providers and employers so that they can continue their learning and Apprenticeships.”