Ask the expert

Recruiting the right candidates for the logistics and supply chain sector,?is now?posing enormous challenges for Middle?Eastern?companies.
COMMENT, Supply Chain


Question: How can regional employers attract the best of the supply chain sector?

Expert: John Halpin
General manager of recruitment services for Hy-Tech Logistics

The supply chain market globally is one of the most rapidly evolving and yet least understood range of disciplines in terms of its importance to the procurement, manufacture, transport and distribution elements of the economy. The variances in supply chain activities make it really difficult for the companies to identify the actual skills and experiences needed for a particular position.

The emergence of logistics and supply chain management as a specialised industry has spurred the need for professionals in this sector. Recruiting the right candidates for the business is posing enormous challenges for companies.

Dubai has made colossal investments in logistics, especially with regard to Dubai World Central and Dubai Logistics City. The demand for industry professionals is therefore on the rise so it is imperative for companies to work closely with professional recruiters to identify and attract human capital to ensure that the industry achieves its goals.

Things are rather unstable in terms of the global economy at the moment, but there is no reason to convince ourselves that a downturn is inevitable. The vast investments being undertaken in the UAE, in particular with Dubai World Central, must be supported in terms of continuing to make Dubai an attractive proposition for world class supply chain professionals to come and contribute to the booming logistics market here.

However, it is very important for employers to have realistic expectations in terms of attracting talent into the sector in the region, and from a recruitment perspective, the level of work it takes to source these candidates needs to be adequately acknowledged.

The shortage of marketable candidates with the requisite skill-sets is an issue affecting the industry globally, and is not something exclusive to the Middle East.

With the advancement of market forces there is a growing demand for new and more adaptable skills to meet the ever-changing supply chain objectives. And for that, conditions of employment must be right in terms of package, company culture, the physical working environment, and infrastructure.

Knowledge counts

It is undeniable that experience counts more in the logistics industry than educational qualifications, but to make the system run effectively it is important for the region's universities to become more responsive to the needs of the logistics business.

At the FIATA World Congress held recently in Dubai, everyone expressed the need for industry specific education programmes, and although universities do include various modules on supply chain management in some of their programmes, the industry does see the need for more dedicated courses.

Today experience and educational qualifications go hand in hand and the opportunity to engage in continued learning while gaining practical frontline exposure is mutually compatible. There is the old saying that there is no substitute for experience, but I think its time for a new phrase: The only substitute for experience is educated experience.

Regional challenges

There is a vast discrepancy between a hiring company's valuation of the individual's cost and the salary expectation of the potential candidate. The cost of living is rising at such a rapid rate that the gap in what is on offer and what is being asked for does not marry up. If employers want the best then they need to pay for it, and that always comes at a price. Investment in the individual, if done correctly, should produce returns that justify the extra input.


To reduce dependence on foreign workers the government of the UAE has launched an Emiratisation initiative to encourage both private and public sectors to employ its citizens. UAE nationals can reap real benefits from the logistics sector since it is a truly global industry with amazing opportunities for career minded people. Dubai, in a short span of time will become the major logistics hub in the world and it is important for Emiratis to get involved in all aspects of this sector to ensure continued growth of the economy.

Searching right candidates with proven track records to offer the cutting edge in services is indeed a tough task for any recruiting company. To maximize the possibilities of sourcing the right candidate, a professionally managed recruitment campaign should incorporate a range of activities and certainly adopt a consultative approach.

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