New Tools Needed to Attract Next Gen

Solutions Sought for Growing Talent Gap in Project Industry

By Carly Fields 
Smarter working hours, mentoring, compensation for intensive work periods and better links with academia – all these were offered up as solutions to the growing talent gap in the project cargo industry by a panel at Breakbulk Europe.
AAL General Manager Felix Schoeller blamed a fundamental lack of visibility of the shipping and logistics sector for the dearth of young people coming into the industry, adding that 10 “terrible years” have made the sector even less attractive as a career choice. 
Schoeller stressed that the industry needs to be clear on its value proposition to improve its appeal.
Part of the problem is reaching out to a new audience, the panel agreed.
Sari Safianti, managing director of Rhenus Project Logistics Indonesia, said that the industry is evolving and must use the right tools to reach this new audience. “Make use of social media, be there and show them what we are doing – millennials have big ambitions and dreams,” she said. “Tell them we have an international network and trust them.”
Christoph Hilgers, head of global projects at Germany DB Schenker, talked up the link with academia. “I think it has been proven successfully in the past that cooperation between business and academia works,” he said, adding that project cargo companies need to work that much harder to keep young and promising talent today. In this respect, he suggested greater interchanges of staff between companies so that new employees get a more rounded view of what it is to work in this business.
“I think this would be a great opportunity to make the next generation and talent see what it is to be part of our industry,” agreed Schoeller. AAL encourages its trainees to spend time on its multipurpose ships so that they can understand projects from a different viewpoint. “When young talent comes in, even in difficult times, we need to give them the opportunity to see what shipping and logistics are all about.”
Hilgers said that the industry also needs to develop smart systems to compensate periods of intensive working with periods of less intensive working. “This requires flexibility from both sides,” he said.
Moderator Tina Benjamin-Lea, logistics manager at SNC-Lavalin, posed the question of what can be offered to make 40 working hours more palatable. “It’s about finding a compromise,” she said.
There was agreement on the need to reach out to potential recruits through different routes too. “We have to be more outgoing as companies, attend universities and careers fairs. We have to look at how we talk to them,” said Jessica Lakmann, head of MENA at TSL Shipping & Trading.
Lakmann also acknowledged the importance of stepping up to give knowledge to the next generation: “Mentoring is one of the most important steps where we need to take action now,” she said.
Giving a working example of the benefits of a rethink on pitching a project cargo career to the next generation, Steve Thornley, director of Malin Group, explained how his company had turned tradition on its head. “We had an old stuffy shipping office and we bought a new office and asked staff what they wanted to see. Now we have a climbing wall, table tennis and communal dining,” he said. “One rule was that we must eat together – no desk dining.”
Malin also offers a nine-day working week over a two-week period and core working hours of 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to deliver more flexibility to Millennials and Generation Z workers.