It was the excellent word play in Wiremind’s latest press release title (“Wiremind's digital innovation thrives on ‘Give and Tech’"), coupled with Alcott Global’s second white paper on supply chain challenges (“Be Your Success Story”), and a brief online discussion with a LinkedIn industry promoter, that prompted reflection on successful and sustainable measures when it comes to attracting talent to the industry.
Alcott Global’s recent survey (in MAY23) of over 300 supply chain senior executives, revealed that 50% placed talent shortage as a serious challenge (third in ranking after geopolitical issues and rising inflation), over the next 12 months. Not a new challenge, really, with regard to air cargo, but an increasingly problematic one – particularly since the disruption of the pandemic, which caused many to reevaluate their desire to work long hours on airport location (never the most relaxing of places), when remote office or employment closer to home seems the better option. As possible solutions to the talent shortage challenge, the whitepaper cites investing in training and upskilling programs for better employee retention and resilience, knowledge-sharing platforms, mentorship programs, and states that “collaborating with educational institutions and industry associations helps attract and develop talent, ensuring a continuous pipeline of skilled professionals in the supply chain field.”
Wiremind's digital innovation thrives on "Give and Tech"
It is precisely this last point, that Wiremind has demonstrated since its inception in 2014. The digital solution expert, with its strong focus also on air cargo, fosters university partnerships with leading institutions, among them the University of British Columbia, Sorbonne University's LPSM faculty, and – most recently - CentraleSupélec. The latter partnership is particularly involved, the release reveals: “Wiremind will be assisting third-year Supply Chain and Operations students to undertake a business-related project as part of their studies,” and “in addition to the internships offered, Wiremind team members will be presenting and engaging the entire student body at a number of events jointly organized with the school.” This ‘Career Partnership’ gives students a chance to experience the industry, with an excellent chance of a permanent job following graduation. “More than half of Wiremind's annual new recruits have previously participated in internships with the company during their academic studies,” the release details.
Research partnerships benefit all involved parties
A second type of university collaboration according to Wiremind, is a ‘Research Partnership’, which focuses on a particular research subject that the postgraduate student is working on. These students are allocated a Wiremind mentor and can access anonymized company data to use in their research into topics such as applying advanced machine learning methodologies in demand forecasting, or reinforced learning for improved palletization processes, the company illustrates. Charles Pierre, Wiremind Group Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, explains the benefits, reasons, and success of its university partnerships to date: “Technology has always been a core part of Wiremind's DNA. Close to two thirds of our team are engineers, many of whom have undergone a research project as part of their studies. It is both the desire to stay abreast of academic research as well as give back to the very academic institutions that enabled our team to develop, that has driven many of our university partnerships to date. We are proud and honored to work with some of the world's leading institutions and minds in three vital fields: technology, engineering, and applied mathematics. Our university partnerships allow us to put theory and advanced research into practice to solve real-life business problems. Aside from the obvious gain for our customers, this joint approach benefits all involved parties: Wiremind enjoys the expertise of top academics, academic research efforts are stimulated by actual complex industry scenarios, and finally, we as a company are able to provide students with a career path and work experience. This helps position us as an employer of choice for talent in what is still such a competitive hiring environment.”
Using Tech to teach and reach
University partnerships are an excellent source of talent, yet they do require dedicated management on the side of the company to ensure proper onboarding and mentoring. Is this something your company is willing to invest in? And is your company encouraging employees to lecture at further education institutions or schools? Experience in talks with air cargo peers, has shown this to be a helpful link when it comes to promoting the industry to potential next generations.
Physical presence is one possibility. Virtual presence, too, offers a huge opportunity in more ways than one. For starters, we all can be ambassadors and promoters for each other in the industry. I make a point of sharing job openings on my LinkedIn page – the more eyes, the greater the chance that the right person will be found. Likewise, I share helpful opportunities such as Women in Aviation International’s latest round of available scholarships (105 in total, valued at more than USD1 million), for which applications have just opened.
Don’t try to Take and Tech
What I refuse to share, however, are unpaid internships. It really should be Give, not Take and Tech, and therefore to publish an unpaid internship for social media management as one airline did recently, sends completely the wrong message for two reasons: it obviously communicates a poor understanding as to the amount of work involved and the power of social media when managed correctly, and – worse – it endorses modern-day slavery. Interns do not survive on brand names on a CV – they have fixed costs, too, plus you are targeting a generation that has never known life prior to social media and therefore places a different value on it.
That value becomes very clear when you follow talent attraction champions such as Kendra Kincade of Elevate Aviation, or industry ambassadors such as The Airport Guy, Mohammad Taher, who uses TikTok videos to explain all kinds of aspects of aviation in an entertaining, educational way. What also works very well, are stories such as Lufthansa Airlines’ CEO, Jens Ritter’s stint as a purser. At the end of the day, in addition to ‘Give and Tech’, it is ‘Show and Tell’ that really sparks awareness and interest in our industry. You want to be “in sight and in mind”!
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.