Recruiting talented individuals to manage the freight forwarding and logistics side of business has proved a challenge to companies of all sizes. John Halpin, general manager of recruitment services for Hy-Tech Logistics, explains how targeted recruitment and Emiratisation need more attention in the Middle East.
Why do many Middle Eastern firms currently look abroad to meet their recruitment needs?
The availability of experienced and qualified personnel with a proven track record within the supply chain disciplines required to meet the demands of the business are thin on the ground in the Middle East. As a result of this, firms look externally for the skill-sets and experience they need to provide the cutting edge in terms of customer service delivery that will give them the lead over their rivals in a very competitive market.
When hiring for a logistics manager position, what qualifications are normally ideal?
Industry related, globally accredited qualifications are best. For a logistics manager role a diploma in logistics management would be an ideal starting point. As part of a cohesive succession planning structure it would be good practice to continue the education of managers through to advanced diploma level and beyond. These qualifications can be obtained on a distance learning basis where the course work is undertaken in a risk free, virtual company environment, where the study and course work replicates practical issues that arise on a daily basis in the ‘live’ working environment.
What previous experience should the candidate have?
Depending on the requirements of the role, an average of 3 years supervisory experience working within the discipline would be the normal benchmark for a position at this level. Two key elements of this experience are a candidate’s ability to manage and motivate teams and their commercial acumen in terms of cost management.
What are the specific challenges of recruiting logistics professionals in the Middle East?
Due to the rapid growth of the logistics market in the Middle East it has proven difficult to source the skill-sets and experience to match the requirements of the industry. The region is not unique in this aspect as it is an issue for the industry across the globe. The industry is loosing people before they can really develop their skills and experience, and this is leaving a very limited pool of talent at the top end where there is high demand and this demand is set to increase further in the coming years. The lack of attention to re-education and up-skilling is now causing employers a severe headache when it comes to succession planning, replacing skilled and experienced staff when they move on and retaining existing personnel.
Is there a skills shortage in the Middle East logistics industry at the moment?
The main problem in recruiting for the junior and middle management logistics professionals is that very few universities offer degrees in logistics and supply chain management, which means that there are very few graduates coming into the market place. The industry is not perceived to be very glamorous or well paid, there are very few graduates from other fields who consider moving into the industry. It is up to the industry as a whole to promote the benefits of pursuing a career in the industry.
Emiratisation is becoming a key topic in the regional logistics industry, how should this be factored in?
The sharing of expertise, knowledge, training and education development are vital to success regardless of any ‘isation’ philosophy. Balance is the key. The Emiratisation policy is a positive move by the government but it must be flexible in its application in order to deliver the best possible services within the region and globally. In the long term it will provide broader opportunities to Emirati employees within their firms and succession planning would benefit by developing and promoting a workforce recruited and trained locally.