As an ambassador for the Think Logistics employer engagement scheme, he engages with local schools and colleges to inspire students and help address the sector’s severe skills shortage.
Logistics are vital to Teesport, owned and operated by PD Ports, a northern gateway providing direct trade routes for global shippers serving northern markets.
Teesport is the second largest container port in the North and the fifth largest port in the UK by volume.
Mr French chairs the Local Advisory Board for the Career Ready Programme at Stockton Riverside College (SRC), and helped set up its Logistics Academy last year - the first Think Logistics centre in the North-East.
“I got involved with Career Ready at Stockton Riverside College to encourage the students to take full advantage of their potential for a career in logistics.
“The programme is an excellent way to address the skills shortage in the logistics industry. I hope that winning this award will help to raise more awareness of career opportunities within the logistics industry and gain more support for the Think Logistics initiative, so we can have a real impact on the skills shortage the sector faces.”
The logistics industry is valued at £90 billion per year in the UK focused on 187,000 enterprises but needs 1.2 million additional workers by 2022.
Mr French, who is also chairman of the Road Haulage Association, said his aims of getting involved with Think Logistics was to help launch the Logistics Academy and help give back to the industry where he has worked for the whole of his career spanning 46 years.
His next aim is to try and bring the fragmented organisations within the logistics industry together to move forward with a cohesive strategy in terms of attracting future talent.
Mr French was presented with his Volunteer of the Year trophy at a ceremony in London this week hosted by Career Ready, a UK wide charity linking employers with schools and colleges to open up the world of work to young people.
“I felt really humbled to receive the award,” Mr French commented. “I was only introduced to Career Ready 12 months ago. When I was asked to get involved there were two things I set as objectives. The first was to open a logistics academy at Stockton Riverside College on Teesside.
“The second was to put something back into the industry from the career that it had given me. The key thing for me is the satisfaction that you get out of seeing young people develop and the respect that they then give back to you.”
Think Logistics was established by Steve Granite, Managing Director of Abbey Logistics Group, who added: “We are enormously grateful to Jim French for encouraging young people to Think Logistics and introducing them to our dynamic industry.
“Think Logistics gives young people an insight into the logistics industry and helps to open their eyes to a range of job opportunities they may not have considered previously.
“In return, this helps the industry attract motivated, work-ready young people to meet the current and future skills needs.”
PIC CAPTION (L-R) Ian Nichol, STEM Development Manager at Career Ready, Kate Forrest, Coordinator at West Derby School (the first logistics centre in the UK) & North West Santander Employability Champion, Jim French, Director of PD Portcentric Logistics, part of the PD Ports Group and chairman of the Road Haulage Association, Steve Granite, Managing Director of Abbey Logistics and founder of Think Logistics.