System Training and the Forklift Operator of the Year

On Thursday 15th September, the third day of the heats of the RTITB International Forklift Operator of the Year Competition took place at the IMHX Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. Forty finalists made it through to the four-day competition, representing the most knowledgeable and skilled operators in the industry.

System Training had two finalists in the Finals on 15th September – Neil Jennings of Carrs Billington and Emily White, who is System Training’s National Training Planner and received her forklift licence 3 years ago.

The competition was tough, designed to push the competitors’ knowledge and practical skills to the limit, and everyone on the day performed brilliantly in the challenges, really proving that they are industry professionals.

The challenges included a theory test, a pre-use inspection test and two practical tests and were all carried out under the eagle-eyed gaze of RTITB’s examiners, who were looking for the safest and most efficient candidates – in these games, points did not mean prizes as the lowest score would win the day with every fault counting against them.

One of the practical tests included use of an attachment that was unfamiliar to the candidates – rotating forks. The challenge was to collect a large box of plastic balls from high level racking, manoeuvre it to an empty box and tip the balls into the empty box. The newly filled box had to be taken back to the high level racking and a second box of balls was collected from the racking opposite; the process repeated. The challenge? Not only did the entire operation have to be carried out observing all the safety regulations and skills that RTITB would require during a normal test but every ball that dropped to the floor was a point against the candidate. Extraordinary skill and accuracy was required as the challenge was also timed and a penalty was given if the challenge was incomplete.

At the end of the day, the results were announced. The first and second places in that day’s heats would be going on to compete in the International Finals next year. Ten candidates will compete in the finals so the remaining two places will be taken by the best two runners up.

It was a tense and exciting moment as the top three were called and when Emily White’s name was announced in first place there were shouts and whoops from the crowd.

“I’m in shock”, Emily said as she collected her certificate and prize, “This is amazing! I’ve had such a fantastic day – we all have! Thank you so much”.

Carl Jones, who has been one of System Training’s forklift instructors for the last 5 years, and who trained Emily 3 years ago, said that, “I am absolutely over the moon! She’s done us proud! I feel so proud as I actually trained her; so to know she went up against all those other candidates and did so well is amazing.” Emily’s boss, Dave Crawford, echoed that sentiment: “Congratulations to Emily! To be a finalist in such a prestigious international competition is brilliant.”

Emily was among the first ever female finalists in the heats this year and the second female winner over the four days.

“We have a lot of male candidates come in to System Training to do their forklift licences and not many female”, Emily continued after the ceremony. “There’s no reason why there can’t be more women in logistics and we’d certainly love to see them at System Training”.

Dave Crawford, Commercial Director for System Training, agrees. “Logistics is primarily male oriented: however, once again we have proof that female operators are generally safer and operate to a higher standard.

“Recognition also needs to be awarded to Emily’s trainer, Carl Jones, who passed on his knowledge and skills for Emily to achieve her forlkift operator’s licence.

“Women in logistics play a vital role for all employers and we must do more to attract new candidates.” Dave concluded, “System Training promotes equality in the workplace and is committed to encouraging all genders and age groups into the logistics industry.”

System Training has been delivering forklift training for 15 years and has been praised for its standard of training and the focus on quality, safety and efficiency. For more information on forklift training and on other training services System Training offers, please call 0845 609 9003 or email

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