CBAFF call out for young freight forwarders

Published in The New Zealand Shipping Gazette on February 29, 2020

By Rachel Madden, Vice President, Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand (CBAFF)


Many freight forwarders and companies across the logistics industry will have been undertaking their planning for the year - so I make no apologies for returning to the subject of recruitment.

In the next 12 months, many companies will likely be looking to recruit, either to replace someone who is moving on or to fill a new role. Logistics is a growing industry around the world and the volume of freight in and out of New Zealand is continuing to increase. Therefore, the need to ensure you have good staff that are able to start as juniors and move up is still important.

As I have said before in these pages, in the past companies would have bee n looking to fill those roles with people with one to two years' experience but those ca ndidates are just not there any more.

There are several reasons for this - most entry level roles are for people with some experience and we are not wanting to take on people with no experience. Second, a lot of entry level data entry roles have gone offshore which adds to the problem when it comes to needing people with some experience, in situ in New Zealand.

I've outlined previously how CBAFF is working with Ontracknz, which promotes young people into entry level positions within several sectors, including logistics and warehousing.

Ontracknz prepared a survey for all CBAFF that went out to all members in February. The aim of the survey was to establish what we want as an industry and, crucially, what the industry is prepared to support in terms of promoting entry level positions.

If the support is not there, initiatives simply will not work. While we received some valuable responses, we still really need everyone to get behind this initiative and provide essential feedback that will help shape the solutions. We also have a meeting planned in the next few months for industry members in the South Island, to discuss this.

The next challenge of course, is that once you do manage to recruit good young people to your business, you want to retain them. The days about being complacent about people staying a couple of years and then being able to replace them are gone. One way of promoting that retention is through providing support and opportunity, providing positive challenges and clear career pathways.

One of the opportunities CBAFF provides to support that is our Young Freight Forwarder of the Year competition. This is designed to stretch young industry members - as they are required to write about a complex project their company has been involved in.

This might sound daunting to some people but, in reality, for most it will be what their business deals with on a day-to-day basis. Our industry deals with 'complex' very well. Additionally, every freight forwarding company is different, with different skills, experience and specialities.  What might seem commonplace in your business, might seem complex to others.

Even if you haven't had an employee enter the competition this year, then we encourage you to be thinking ahead for those who might like to enter in the future.

We need information about the competition to be spread through companies, not just upper management. Team leaders and supervisors need to know about it, so young people are actively encouraged and mentored to participate.

We are grateful to Air New Zealand Cargo, IVS Group and WiseTech Global for their generous support this year. Without them the competition would not be possible. The winner will be announced at the annual CBAFF conference in Rotorua in May.

Prizes this year are: an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles where the winner will undertake a tailored, behind-the-scenes tour of the Air NZ ground handling facility and other freight-related visits, and also a tour around the Auckland cargo facility; $750 spending money; IVS training courses to the value of $4000; Complimentary attendance at the Annual CBAFF Conference in the year following the award where they will be asked to present a summary of their report and findings from the trip to Los Angeles; Automatic nomination for the FIATA International Freight Forwarder of the Year Award.

The prizes are focused on supporting the winner's career development - for their benefit and that of current and future employers. When young people go overseas and undertake training - and the IVS prize offers a choice of a wide range of training - they grow. This year, we asked the employers of some of our previous winners to provide feedback. Just to quote one of them, Alister Wishart, chief operations officer of Oceanbridge Shipping:

"We naturally encourage (entrants) to get the final presentation to a high standard, but the hard work and creativity comes from the individual and we notice a much more motivated staff member as a result. In every case, these people have gonon to bigger and brighter jobs in their freight careers ... We encourage every employer to encourage their staff to participate in the programme."