Mantra was awarded a Skills Capital Grant from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) towards this scheme. Oldham Council Leader and GMCA Lead for Employment, Skills and Apprenticeships, Sean Fielding, officially opened the state-of-the art facility at Mantra’s headquarters in the city region.
Mantra Learning has identified reverse logistics – the process of handling goods which are returned by online shoppers – as a fast-growing sub-sector in need of skilled workers. Some retailers report return rates of between 20 and 40 per cent of their internet sales, which translates into a cost of around £20 billion a year. This is continuing to grow as the rate of online shopping and the volume of returned items, expand.
More than 200 people a month are now expected to graduate from this centre, ready for good jobs in handling customer returns, putting unused goods back into stock for re-sale and recycling damaged or faulty goods.
The facility is a semi-permanent structure built by Spacio Tempo which can be easily expanded and boasts the latest technology provided by members of the Warehouse Technology Group so that learners can learn and practice new skills in a live working environment. The centre will also support learners on traineeships and apprenticeships as well as in retraining the job-seekers and work returners who are referred to Mantra Learning’s Job Gym by Jobcentre Plus.
After cutting the ribbon to open the new centre Sean Fielding said: “It was fantastic to be asked to open this leading-edge facility at Mantra Learning and see the opportunities it will offer to learners. The GMCA are proud to be supporting the investment for this facility in what is a fast-growing sector. Logistics now represents around 7 per cent of the Greater Manchester business base and it’s growing fast in North Manchester with increasing demand for reverse logistics where skilled people are doing jobs that simply cannot be automated. It’s also great to see how Mantra have expanded from their Oldham base to now cover the whole country with their National Logistics Academy.”
Mark Currie, Chief Executive of Mantra Learning, said: “One of the main reasons why Mantra has continued to thrive for 50 years is that we have always been the first to respond when the logistics sector has undergone a seismic shift such as the one we are experiencing today with the phenomenal growth in internet retailing. The world of work is changing fast and people need to learn new skills in order to make the transition from sectors in decline like high street retail to the new technological logistics world of online shopping. I am delighted that GMCA has recognised the good work we do in supporting the residents and businesses of Greater Manchester and provided us with some financial assistance to build this new centre.”