The banners on the 4th floor of the World Cargo Center, located adjacent Hamburg Airport, are already taped to the wall. In bold letters, they proclaim: SOVEREIGN ACADEMY. This “Brain Lab”, as the facility is dubbed by the Sovereign management, is the company’s latest move towards achieving a higher level of autonomy through inhousing professional training and educational programs. Barely launched internally, the program is already being expanded.
Walking through the entrance door of the office wing, the first thing that stands out is the spacious lounge, where course participants and coaches can relax and exchange views, while enjoying a coffee, snack, or soft drink. The ambience impresses with its complaisant atmosphere and is not at all reminiscent of stuffy school buildings. Adjacent are a number of training rooms, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology. “Become an Expert. Be trained by Logistics Specialists,” reads the message displayed on a large monitor.
Seven licensed coaches are responsible for conveying the training courses’ different contents, ranging from basic, refreshers to advanced. Six of them belong to Sovereign’s own workforce, while an additional expert from outside complements the team. Prior to taking up this job, they had to pass an examination to prove their qualification as instructors.
High internal demand
Currently, 800 staff stand on Sovereign’s payroll, with many of them working in operations. So, the internal need for training and higher qualification is there. Precise product expertise and knowledge is required to ensure compliance with the relevant legal provisions in cargo handling, storing, and transport. The different training topics cover the entire ABC of air freight, such as handling and packaging of dangerous goods (DG), labeling and documentation of shipments, IATA training requirements, forklift training, product knowledge, security issues or fire protection training, to name but a few.
“With our steadily growing number of employees, the internal demand for training courses is naturally enormous. It was therefore an obvious idea to set this up inhouse. However, it quickly became clear that thanks to the expertise we have gained as a logistics service provider for over 20 years, we also bring added value to external customers. Therefore, from December onwards, everyone will be able to book their training courses at the Sovereign Academy," states Hendrik Bender, Senior Director Business Development & Marketing. This indicates, but is left without comment by the Sovereign management, that the Academy will most likely be profitable in 2022.
Theory and practice go hand in hand
In addition to Hamburg, Sovereign Speed’s hometown, the company that specializes in pan-European express transports by road and air, decided to set up similar centers in Cologne and Frankfurt. The training is very practical, as the HAM example illustrates. While theoretical knowledge is taught upstairs, containers, pallets and loose packages are handled downstairs in the warehouses of the World Cargo Center 24/7. “A closer link between theory and practice is hardly possible,” Hendrik Bender points to a unique selling point. The same accounts for Frankfurt and Cologne, where the two sectors are directly linked as well.
Third-party applicants are welcome
The first internal training courses, tailored to the needs of the Sovereign staff, have been accomplished meanwhile. As of tomorrow (29NOV21), third-party logistics players will be offered to jump on Sovereign Academy’s bandwagon. "There are several freight forwarders based here at the World Cargo Center, whose employees need refresher or introductory courses just as our own people,” states Mirko Heidhoff, Head of Academy. “They are welcome to join in.”
At the end of each course, each participant takes an exam, which is evaluated by external experts. Passing it, a prerequisite to be licensed, is not easy. So “it really pays to pay close attention during the training sessions,” recommends Academy Chief Heidhoff.
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