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ontracknz students Keeley Chapman, Nicole Davys and Xavier Martin – the logistics industry offers them a lot of opportunities

CBAFF and IVS take action to address industry recruitment challenges

The Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand (CBAFF) has launched a major drive to support recruitment and career development across the logistics sector.

CBAFF’s Your Logistics Pathway programme has been designed to support those starting out on their careers in the sector and provide them with learning and networking opportunities. The organisation is also working with Independent Verification Services (IVS) to raise awareness among careers advisors and young people in schools, about the opportunities the industry offers – and to help get young people ‘work ready’ and match them with potential employers. 

CBAFF vice president Rachel Madden says recruitment is a problem in every area of logistics. “It’s vital we retain the talented young people we have attracted to our sector,” she says. “Your Logistics Pathway has been designed in consultation with CBAFF members, around what kind of programmes they’d like young people to go on and what junior employees are interested in doing.”

The programme will have its own logo, website and social media pages. Future plans include a series of promotional videos featuring young logistics professionals talking about their work. Events will include workshops with experienced industry members talking about how they started out in the sector. 

For the first Pathway event, a group of 10 young industry members toured Ports of Auckland. The second, a panel discussion and networking event, saw several industry figures, including Ms Madden and fellow CBAFF vice president Chris Edwards, share their career journeys. 

CBAFF vice president Rachel Madden: “It’s vital we retain the talented young people we have attracted to our sector”

“It can be hard to see the career path ahead when you have just started out and may be doing a lot of mundane tasks,” says Ms Madden. “The aim is to show how doing these roles provides a springboard to so many opportunities – from becoming a customs broker, to working in customer services or taking on more interesting and senior operational roles.”

Liubov Zabudskaia, an international freight coordinator with First Global Logistics (FGL), joined the tour of Ports of Auckland. “It was my first time visiting the port after handling import shipments at FGL for the past three years,” she says. “I found it really interesting to see how operations work at the port before I receive the freight at my end, how containers are handled, and how they are stored and loaded onto the truck for delivery. It was really useful to get that bigger picture and to meet people working on that side of things.”

Raising the profile of the ‘invisible’ industry

Raising the profile of the industry and awareness about the opportunities it provides for career progression is a key goal. 

Phillip Burgess, South Island manager for Burnard International, says he was aware of the industry because his mother worked in the shipping sector and encouraged him, as a school leaver, to apply for a junior position with a freight forwarder. “It’s a great industry for the right young people, with few barriers to entry, but we tend to be an ‘invisible industry’,” says Phillip, who was CBAFF’s 2017 Young Achiever winner and 2019 Asia Pacific finalist for the FIATA Young International Freight Forwarder of the Year.

“International freight forwarding plays a significant part in many industry sectors. However, because of our services and marketing focus, we generally don’t deal directly with the public, so many people are simply oblivious to international freight and the complexities involved.”

Gavin Powell, an operations trainee with Go Air Land Sea, also learned about the sector through family. “My mum works in freight in Tauranga,” he says. “I have a business degree, majoring in international business, and joined Go in April this year. It’s my first job after graduating and I feel very lucky to have made the connection. 

Gavin Powell, Go Air Land Sea operations trainee: “Every day is different”

“I started out doing export documents and helping the manager, and now I’ve transitioned to imports trainee. I’m really enjoying it. Every day is different and I’m not just entering data, I’m challenging myself and solving problems. I definitely see my career in logistics – I wouldn’t say no to being able to travel the world for Go.”

Partnering with IVS 

CBAFF is working closely with IVS, New Zealand’s leading provider of biosecurity services for importers and exporters, as well as the leading MPI transitional facility training provider. IVS launched its ontracknz programme during 2019 following discussions with CBAFF. 

It has already grown to be a stand-alone company that works with schools and careers advisors to raise awareness about career opportunities. It provides training and work experience for young people interested in joining the sector, and helps match potential entrants with employers through a dedicated website.

The programme has been trialled in Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua, with plans to extend further, including Auckland and Wellington. The initial focus has been on forklift training and warehouse work, and will eventually be extended into other areas of logistics and the wider industry.

About 85 school students have already achieved their forklift operator certificates and gained work experience through ontracknz.

Jacqui Neilson, project lead for ontracknz, comes from a background of supporting the development of young people in schools. “IVS CEO Peter Webb asked me to come onboard at the beginning of the year, to help with the programmes for schools,” says Ms Neilson. 

“Little is known about logistics outside of the sector and it’s not seen as a ‘sexy’ industry. I find not all careers advisors have an in-depth knowledge of the industry, or don’t recognise the opportunities to progress from entry-level roles into senior positions, and that you don’t necessarily need to go to university to do that,” she adds.

Peter Webb, CEO of IVS, with Jacqui Neilson, project lead for ontracknz

“We looked at everything that would work alongside the work of CBAFF, including biosecurity, approved persons, warehousing, customs and forklift training. This fits well with the Gateway vocational pathways, but there are often only one or two Gateway coordinators in schools looking after a large number of young people. 

“We want to support careers advisors and Gateway coordinators. Industry is crying out for forklift operators. The IVS programme gets young people through the training for their forklift certificate plus nine hours of forklift experience, so they have a training record and some practical time on their log.”

Lots of opportunities

Seventeen-year-old Keeley Chapman completed the IVS forklift programme during 2018, his final year at Rototuna High, gaining an accredited forklift operator certificate, health and safety essentials and height safety. He is now looking for an entry-level role in the sector.

“I’m looking to find employment through the ontracknz website,” he says. “Having found out about the logistics sector and done the forklift training, I want to work in an industry I can work my way up in, and logistics offers a lot of opportunities to do that. 

“The training was really good. All the guys doing it were around my age and the instructor was very good and easy to relate to. We started with theory and then did the practical aspects. Once we got our operator certificates, there were three more three-hour sessions which helped us get some time on the log and build our confidence.”

Ms Neilson says ontracknz also supports young people in writing a CV/jobseeker profile to feature on its website. “A lot of young people don’t know how to put themselves out there in terms of looking for a job, so we’re making it easy for them. Once they’ve done our training, we can put their profiles on our website. Businesses looking for new staff – whether full or part-time – can see young people who are looking for careers in the industry and who already have some work experience,” she concludes.

“We’ll measure this over 2020, look at who young people are getting employment with and work with CBAFF to connect them to development and networking opportunities through Your Logistics Pathway.”

For more information on the ontracknz programme, visit www.ontracknz.co.nz

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