A declining working age population and its possible impact on Cumbria’s skills base was one of the key issues raised at a transport and logistics conference in the county.

Cumbria Transport Group (CTG) welcomed more than 50 guests to the event at the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) business and conference centre in Penrith.

Neil Robinson, chairman of CTG, said the conference delivered tangible benefits around skills and compliance to transport operators in Cumbria.

“The huge success of our inaugural Cumbria Transport Group conference was underpinned by a number of quality guest speakers and attendees representing employers across a diverse range of businesses operating within the important transport and logistics sector in Cumbria,” he said.

“The conference provided essential, credible and current advice for anyone operating a fleet of vehicles and delivered a solid platform for the group to expand both its membership and benefits to employers.”

Guest speaker Craig Ivison, head of skills at Cumbria LEP, said skills gaps could be expected due to a declining working age population in Cumbria and pointed to measures which could be taken to address the situation.

“Cumbria’s transport and logistics sector has significant growth potential. This was reflected by the attendance of over 50 employers at the event,” he said after the event.

“Cumbria LEP is working closely with logistics training providers and employers to improve technical skills, workforce development and recruitment in the sector.

“We have a transport and logistics employer sector panel, part of the £8.5m European Social Fund project, The Edge, to address key issues such as driver vacancies, a significantly ageing driver workforce and improving the sector’s image for young people in schools and those looking for a second or different career.”

Research director at University of Cumbria Professor Frank Peck gave an in-depth presentation on the issues facing local transport employers and explained the importance of the sector to the local economy.

Advice was presented to transport operators by Simon Evans, North West Traffic Commissioner on how to avoid flouting rules and ensuing public inquiries.

He covered issues around cheating devices, driver training deadlines and using self-employed driving staff.

CTG represents Cumbrian companies including AW Jenkinson, Burridge Transport, Carlisle City Council, SP Training, Stobart Group and Wm Armstrong.