On 20-23OCT20 (and later again, on 08-11DEC20), all those involved in ensuring safety and supervision along air cargo supply chains, from regulators, carriers, ground handling agents, logistics service providers, to online retailers and shippers, have the opportunity to attend a world premiere – both with regards to subject matter as well as to delivery: the first ever joint ICAO-TIACA Safe Supply Chain course which will be held in a virtual classroom, and tackles the additional risks and issues in supply chains brought about by the huge and ever-growing increase in e-Commerce shipments.
“ICAO actively worked with TIACA’s strategic learning and development partner – Strategic Aviation Solutions International (SASI), to deliver this course” reads ICAO’s website. CFG talked to those at SASI responsible for the concept and delivery: Lilian Tan, Senior Vice President, Head of Learning and Development, Charles Edwards, Vice President, Learning and Development, and P. Balasubramanian, Senior Associate, Lead Instructor.
CFG: What triggered the need for this particular course?
SASI: The complexity of supply networks, reflecting the rapid growth of e-Commerce, has been a cause of concern as the number of shippers and consignees has grown exponentially. Many of the shippers and consignees are unaware of the rules and regulations concerning safe and secure movement of goods by air. ICAO wanted a course which would be accessible to all members of the worldwide air cargo logistics industry and their customers. The course was created in response to discussions between the Secretary General of TIACA, Vladimir Zubkov, and SASI CEO, Stan Wraight, with ICAO at their headquarters in Montreal
CFG: What does it contain?
SASI: The course is composed of a series of modules which introduce the participant to changes in supply networks such as e-Commerce, how to create a safety leadership ecosystem, a review of the applicable ICAO annexes, and a module about risk management. Unlike traditional Dangerous Goods (DG) courses, this provides a higher-level perspective of the situation for managers and policy makers. Participants are exposed to the complexity of managing safe and secure supply chain operations within the aviation environment. They will participate in team efforts to address issues presented in a SASI-prepared bespoke business case, before completing a final assessment/examination.
CFG: Is this the first virtual course of its kind being developed by SASI? How will it be carried out?
SASI: This is the first case developed by SASI for both virtual and in-person delivery. We employ a partial asynchronous virtual delivery format. The class participants are required to study bespoke subject matter along with additional readings on their own. Each module of the course is accompanied by a live discussion / exercise period to respond to participant questions and to test their knowledge. ICAO plans to conduct in-person classes once travel restrictions are removed.
CFG: Are the days of physical classroom training over?
SASI: No, we don't believe that they are, but they are likely to be significantly changed. The days of lectures are likely over. The 'case method' approach, in which participants prepare business cases and other readings out of class, followed by in-class discussion will be the likely future. This approach is being employed for 'training' programs as well as for higher level educational programs. SASI is now fully embarking on virtual classroom training to complement our SASI in-classroom offerings as well.
CFG: How has SASI overcome the challenge of analyzing supply change trends in an ever-changing, unprecedented environment?
SASI: SASI spends considerable time and effort in monitoring supply chain trends. We look at all of the traditional freight transport modes involved as well as from the perspective of the (BCO) beneficial cargo owners. This research is applied to our suite of courses as well as to advisory engagements and a series of white papers which we published for free and are available on our web site. SASI prides itself on its advisory role in what can only be described as "future proofing" for our clients, and the only credible advisors are those who are fully immersed in all air logistics requirements from A to Z.
CFG: How has COVID-19 affected the Supply Chain handling process?
SASI: The following is a non-exhaustive list of impacts:
a) shipment transit patterns (internationally and domestically) have changed which have led to significant imbalances, delays, and rising costs,
b) loss of 55% of the air cargo lift that was in belly holds for the most part - higher prices, some international mail now moving by ocean instead of air services, etc.,
c) recognition of the value of logistics, especially by governments
d) recognition of need to embrace and implement digitalisation of air cargo processes, an absolute must
e) recognition by airlines of air cargo's financial value (air cargo operations are generating much needed cash flow and market presence),
f) increased focus on environmental protection as air quality has improved due to fewer vehicles in operation, and
g) near- and on-shoring projects to improve resiliency of supply networks.
CFG: Are there plans to hold the training in languages other than English in future?
SASI: We are initiating a project which could lead to the course being offered in Mandarin in the near future, with more to follow, for example, Russian and Spanish.
CFG: Is this one of a series of virtual courses that can be expected? If yes, what are other upcoming topics?
SASI: SASI has developed a series of other courses. Those courses will be adapted for a virtual delivery. The topics include - revenue management, product/service development, financial management, supply chain analysis, leadership, change management, project management, fleet decisions, the role of freighters, etc.
CFG: What are the benefits for companies to invest USD800/head on training in the current economic climate?
SASI: In recent studies, the value of continued learning and development in a time of disruption has been noted as a positive factor for companies which successfully navigate the disruption and excel in the recovery period. The extent of changes in the supply chain network, the complexity of the systems, as well as the expected long-term changes emerging from the current pandemic make this a must: staff must be prepared. One of SASI's clients recently stated that a benefit of the bespoke program delivered by SASI was the company's ability to quickly pivot its operation as the pandemic hit and increase revenues.
Providing learning and development resources to your team is one of the proven strongest indicators of support and encouragement and showing existing staff you value their contribution. The almost universal outcome is higher levels of loyalty, which are tested in a time of disruption, productivity, and support of the company by its staff. Learning and development cannot end at the supervisor level to be effective, it must be provided for everyone in an enterprise.
CFG: What was it like working with ICAO and TIACA on setting up the course?
SASI: SASI has worked with many different teams within ICAO. Their knowledge, flexibility, and willingness to assist and provide feedback and advice has been instrumental in developing the course and making it ready for delivery. ICAO identified this as one of their top four topics to support in 2020 as the Covid crisis took hold. ICAO and TIACA are vigorously marketing the course to a wide audience, as are we to our global client base.
Thank you, Lilian, Charles and Bala, for your input.
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