What can we do to attract more people to the sector?

Guest columnist Brian Cartwright addresses this burning issue.
Logistics, COMMENT, Business Trends, Supply Chain


Written by Brian Cartwright, managing director, MEA Region, Logistics Executive

There is certainly a shortage in the region when it comes to Logistics, but I would argue it’s not a shortage of suitable people. I work closely with many logistics providers as an external recruitment partner and as such consider myself to be in a strong position to comment on common trends in recruitment practice which are impeding the industry’s ability to attract more people. For example a job brief will usually require potential candidates to have current or previous Middle East experience. Did we all start working our working life in the Middle East?

Maybe companies are being a little more careful with their hiring choices since the boom and bust years, but the fact remains that exceptional talent can be found everywhere in the world. Yes, business in the Middle East works differently to say Europe or South America, but all of the ex-pats in the Middle East had to start somewhere and the only way to gain experience in the Middle East is to be given the chance in the first place. Why aren’t the majority of companies open to this any longer?

As another example let’s take three sales people applying for the same Freight Sales job: one has an amazing track record of hitting targets for Freight Sales in Europe for many years but has no experience in the Middle East. The other has lived in the Middle East their whole life selling Pharmaceuticals, consistently hits targets and has grown their business year on year but doesn’t have a clue about Freight Forwarding.

The third is working the Middle East selling Freight, sometimes hits target but really only covers 1-2 times salary each month through revenue generated (It’s an extremely tough market).All are well presented with a good employment history. The only thing separating them is the points above, so who would you choose?

There is no right or wrong answer the point is there are many people out there with transferable skills who will never get a look in because they don’t have experience in Logistics or they do but don’t have it in the Middle East. If this is how we view the people who already have work experience, then how do we view the fresh graduates who might be interested in getting into to Logistics?

So what can we do to attract local talent, GCC nationals and fresh graduates to the sector? Firstly we need to consider why people work in the sector at all, many of the people I speak would say they kind of fell into the industry and wouldn’t have made a conscious choice to embark on a career in Logistics. At the time of leaving your education would Logistics have been something you would know enough about to seriously consider? When asked the question of how we attract people to the sector it’s easy to come up with ideas, the hard part is getting enough people behind the ideas to make it a reality.

Are the local logistics bodies connecting with the schools and universities enough to help people understand what logistics really entails and generate an early interest?

Moving goods by sea by land or by air is pretty exciting isn’t it? A lot of the technology used is very impressive, and what about heavy lift projects such as moving entire oil rig that would surely have to grab people’s attention?

If the logistics industry pulled together and really marketed the industry with the goal of creating more interest from school leavers at an earlier age and also provided enough training and resources for people to start fresh in the industry, then we would attract more people to the sector. My view is that we have a shortage of companies willing to invest in training people, and/or lack of willingness to invest in bringing experienced people to the Middle East.

As I write this article I can’t actually think of the last time a company said to me they would consider employing someone with the right competencies gained in a different industry and then give them training in logistics. Surely that’s where we need to start. So is the issue that people aren’t interested in working in Logistics?

Or is the main issue that the Logistics industry itself (in this region) is not giving people enough opportunity to work in the sector? Let’s cut out this whole catch 22 situation and start leading the change from today!


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