It’s a topic on the agenda of almost every air cargo conference, and an ongoing challenge that the entire industry has long identified as crucial: how to encourage younger generations to consider a career in air freight? CargoForwarder Global therefore asked a representative of the young talent generation, who is focussing her own career on addressing and solving this very topic for air cargo logistics related companies, for her opinion on what the industry has to offer, where the challenges lie, as well as solution measures. Here is Olga Romanova, Founder of CargoHR’s answer.
What attracts young talents to Air Cargo? This is a very broad topic. Considering Air Cargo on a global, international level, we could say that what attracts young talents or employees in one geographical area is not necessarily the case in another and could also be impacted also by the geo-political situation of a region.
During my career, I have mainly worked with young talents from Central Europe. Therefore, I will share my experience based on this region.
In my opinion, nowadays Air Cargo in this region faces a number of challenges in terms of attracting highly skilled, educated, and diverse young talents.
That said, in comparison to other industries such as banking or consultancy, it was and still is easier to start career in Air Cargo without requiring a university degree. In contrast, however, certainly an additional challenge is how to attract female young potentials.
What does Air Cargo have going for it?
Coming back to our original question: “what attracts young talent?”, here are concrete aspects that young talents find attractive when it comes to the Air Cargo industry:
- easy to enter the industry
- international environment
- being part of an aviation community
- working on interesting & diverse projects
- a dynamic working environment
- belief in the opportunity to grow
- job that contributes to our everyday life
What we should not forget, however, is that besides what Air Cargo already offers, the new generation also values and seeks the following:
- state-of-the-art working environment, conditions, compensation, and benefits - not just in HQs but also at the company’s branches. This is relevant for all sizes of companies
- having the possibility to be part of industry events to increase their visibility and to network
- diversity, equity, and inclusion in practice
What are the challenges when young talents join?
Four key factors can be the difference between retention and resignation, and should be taken into consideration when adapting the company’s recruitment concept. They are:
- Lack of proper onboarding.
Due to job dynamics, companies are not focused on investing time in smooth onboarding, introducing new joiners to the general terminology, policies, and regulations. Rather than that, our colleagues are learning by doing, which is also a good way. However, in my opinion, dedicated time for a qualitative onboarding is essential and compulsory to give young talents more confidence, as well as facilitate their learning curve.
- Career development, opportunities, and retention
When joining the industry, employees expect to have transparency on their career path and development possibilities including talent programs, mentoring, and the company’s investment in their future know-how. If employees do not have clarity on their career prospects, they tend to leave not only the current company but also the industry.
- Working conditions & environment
During my working experience and visiting many customers on-site, I had the chance to see which offices offered good working conditions and those that were not on the expected level, missing adequate equipment and generally lacking in the overall conditions that every employee, especially new, young recruits require.
- High-stress level and 24/7 working environment
In our daily Air Cargo business, we deal with very sensitive commodities which need to be moved from A-to-B as fast as possible, and this requires immediate reactions and problem-solving. Employees deal with a number of issues such as delayed, damaged, or missing cargo. All of this creates a challenging environment:
- high stress-levels while simultaneously managing a big amount of data and information
- long working hours and shift-work, which sometimes includes working over the weekends and holidays
- dealing with hard topics such as complaints about delays, damage, or missing cargo.
Where should companies turn to attract young talents?
I think, before we seriously approach young talents, the industry needs to perform its homework and create an environment which suits those talents and seriously puts people & culture topics on the top of the agenda.
Nevertheless, I would say young talents can be approached through a mixture of different channels. Here just some of them:
- job fairs
- universities, high schools: offer internships, graduate positions, as well as first job programs
- airports could create own local cargo communities and offer networking events for young talents, to help improve the industry’s standing both locally and globally
- promote IATA’s FACE (Future Air Cargo Executives) group and other IATA events such as Hackathons
- use recruitment providers which are focused on promoting the industry and attracting the right talent
We are lucky that our industry does still attract young talents who can imagine developing their career within Air Cargo. That means companies can still leverage on this and invest in future air cargo professionals by offering a people-oriented culture as well as safe place to learn, develop and grow. It is very important to have an understanding of the future generation’s needs, as well as offer a clear career path.
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