Just that, when it comes to looking for a job, most people out there are not aware of the industry in the side wings, that keeps the world economy turning. IAG Cargo hosted a webinar on 19OCT21 to discuss the “Talent Challenge”: how to attract new and maintain existing talent. Moderated by IAG Cargo’s Head of Marketing and External Communications, Matthew Gardiner, the discussion panel consisted of Peter Penseel, COO Air Freight at CEVA Logistics, Tanya Joseph, MD of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Laura Nelson, MD RTITB, Talent in Logistics, and Ben Lyons, Senior Operating Director at Michael Page Logistics.
Despite air cargo having shifted into the spotlight over the past year and a half, thanks to its prominent role during the pandemic, the idea that it is an industry offering diverse career opportunities, has not come through. The results of an OCT21 IAG Cargo survey of 2000 people in the UK are both alarming and depressing: 73% of respondents have never considered a career in air cargo, and just 6% would consider air cargo as a job possibility in future. Already in IAG Cargo’s 2019 “The Future of Forwarding” survey, carried out among 400 freight forwarders, 79% of respondents rated the attraction and retention of talent as a significant challenge.
Turnover tsunami / great resignation
The problem of attracting talent is not a new one, and the air cargo industry is not the only industry facing these challenges. However, as Tanja Joseph pointed out in in the discussion, “It’s a buyer’s market!” these days. The pandemic has made many reconsider their career choices. Values are changing. 80% of people in another survey, stated a desire for “meaningful” work, with 65% of people looking for greater sense of purpose than their current role gives them. It is this sense of purpose that is crucial to attracting talent to the company, and has a far greater pull than the current financial sign-on bonuses that a number of companies are offering. The pandemic has not only exacerbated the challenge of finding new staff but has also increased the problem of retaining good staff.
Missing education opportunities
Ben Lyons identified a weak point in that there is a distinct lack of qualification opportunities pointing young people in the direction of a career in air cargo. “There are no GCSEs / A’levels / BTECs readily available,” he said, referring to UK qualifications taken between the ages of 16 and 18. Instead, “People ‘fall into’ logistics” almost by accident. He pressed for more education opportunities early on and suggested using social media to spread the word on how exciting air cargo can be. Especially now, where “the industry is in the news more than it has ever been before!” Yet, take care to select the right social media channels, since “Facebook is for old people!” Laura Nelson warned, smiling. “Tiktok, Insta, and Snapchat,” she advised, pointing out that the young generation is “very adaptive at self-education and research” and that their interest would be in seeing what goes on behind the scenes of a company, and how the company can help them reach their personal goals.
Be exciting and engaging!
Tanya Joseph pointed out “If the first communication you’re having is about a job, it’s too late. You need to communicate before the job ad!” The air cargo industry needs to build awareness and an audience and explain what it does. It needs to show the full variety of roles on offer, and communicate the purpose, vision, promote inclusion and the lived message that “We’re all in this together”, with positive social impact examples, so that by the time the job ad is published, people are already interested.
Companies that are successful in recruiting new talent and retaining existing talent, are those that place people in the foreground: those that listen to their employees, understand not only their professional but also their personal goals, and support their well-being and development. Modern companies are open to remote work and can benefit from a larger geographical talent pool. Regarding whether work-from-home is here to stay, the panel largely believed in hybrid models, pointing out the importance of newer colleagues being able to learn from more experienced colleagues in an office environment. “Trust is the glue that binds the team together,” Matthew Gardiner summed up the discussion on greater flexibility in companies.
The fish starts to rot from the head
The company’s broadcast sense of purpose must be authentic and lived by management. Peter Penseel said it first: “The fish starts to rot from the head.” Senior management has to take the time and put in the effort to find really understand what the new generations want. The air cargo industry should go out to universities and schools and present itself and its opportunities. It needs to give clear examples of the career paths that candidates can expect in the industry. “Be a guest speaker at universities,” he urged, and “At the next family birthday party, preach about our industry! It is one that has been around for years and will last for years to come!” Creating awareness is key, all panellists agreed. Matthew Gardiner summarized: “We need to highlight the importance of what we do. Cargo keeps the world moving! We provide a purpose.”
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