The British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) reported in February 2012 that sales orders for forklift trucks in the UK rose by 20% in 2011 compared to 2010, with 26,100 forklift trucks sold in the year.
This is heartening because each of those sales is a potential job opportunity for someone in the UK.
It is also important to realise that while there is no official “Forklift Licence” as such in the UK (see “Forklift Truck Certification Requirements” for an explanation); that passing five-day course from one of the six training bodies that have been approved by the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, is now pretty much a “must have” if you want to operate a forklift truck in most businesses in the UK.
So, the best way to immediately improve your chances of getting a job is to take an appropriate training course.
It is also important to realize that your choice of training provider can be crucial as to how quickly you are able to get a job.
It is now fairly common for one of the main incentives of taking a course with a certain provider to be the links that they have developed with local companies that need forklift operators.
So as well as assessing training competency, asking about links to local firms should also be very high on your list of questions to ask, as well as questions such as:
- “How many of your last class of graduates are now employed as forklift operators?”, and
- “Did you help anyone from your last class to get a job as a forklift operator?”
Future Demand for Forklift Operators
One good way of assessing potential future demand for jobs in the sector is to take notice of the particular types of forklift truck that are selling well. And in this regard over the last couple of years the sales of powered pallet trucks and counterbalance trucks has been significantly growing, while the sales of reach trucks, narrow aisle trucks and low-level order pickers has actually declined.
It is important to realize that there is a cyclical nature when it comes to ordering expensive machinery like forklift trucks, and so a sales decline in one year and growth the next does not definitively mean that a particular style of forklift is “the next big thing”.
But it is generally indicative of trends in the industry such as move for example towards larger distribution centres, warehouses and a growth in e-commerce that is leading to a general increase in warehouse capacity and a commensurate rise in the need for forklift trucks and their operators.
The most common types of forklift trucks are counterbalance forklift trucks and all normal 5-day novice courses will train you to use this type of truck.
What this means for someone seeking employment is that as well as making sure that any course provider you choose to train with has good industry contacts, that you should also be sure to double check the kind of forklift trucks that you will be trained on, and whether there are any specific local opportunities that specifically demand forklift operators who are trained in a specific type of forklift truck.
If there are, then it may be worth seeking out a course that also includes training in those kinds of trucks.
A good place to start with this are the big job websites in the UK. Here for example is an updated list of available Forklift Job Opportunities in the UK: Indeed.co.uk
As of January 2013 there are over 250 jobs available (though this will clearly change by the time you are reading this!) So it is heartening to see that even in relatively slow economic times there is still a strong demand for forklift truck operators in the UK.