British International Freight Association seeks to inspire next generation into logistics

Autumn 2021 has seen the British International Freight Association launch a campaign to encourage its members to work with schools to promote careers in logistics, forwarding and the supply chain, and encourage students to consider them.

Robert Keen (pictured), the Director General of the trade association that represents freight forwarding and logistics companies, explains what else BIFA is doing to try to inspire the next generation to consider a career in logistics.

As schools returned for a new academic year, we equipped our members with an array of materials to help them promote careers within the freight and logistics sector to students; literature full of ideas of how to promote their business and the industry to the next generation as a career option.

This promotional material is the first part of a wider industry Inspiration programme that will help members to highlight to students the available routes when making career choices, identify the core values and behaviours required when applying for jobs, and provide advice that may encourage young people to broaden their horizons.

Industry promotion is one of BIFA’s key roles and part of that is encouraging logistics as a career path. We see career guidance via school events as being key to that.

Subsequent to the distribution of the literature, which we hope will inspire members around the country to do something locally, we have launched a new partnership with Think Logistics to inspire the next generation of talent to join the sector.

Governed by Career Ready, a UK-wide social mobility charity, Think Logistics works with schools and colleges to inspire and inform young people about the logistics sector with a range of activities and workplace experiences, all delivered by volunteers from the profession.

Our partnership with them will enable BIFA members to access local schools and colleges to promote the profession and builds on the inspirational work being undertaken by the trade association’s Young Forwarder Network, which was launched in March 2019, to create several regional networking groups, run by young forwarders and designed to help early talent and young BIFA members develop their knowledge and professional skills, but in a more social environment.

When the YFN was launched, we said we thought it would prove to be a major step forward for the industry in developing its future freight forwarding ambassadors and leaders.

The young people who are participating in the events are improving their knowledge of the sector, trends within it, as well as building their skill sets and learning from others.

BIFA’s Young Forwarder Network is committed to providing opportunities for those new to the industry to develop their knowledge and professional skills. Membership is free and open to any employee of a BIFA Member company.

The YFN is really helping improve the promotion of the sector, making it more attractive to younger people and providing forums from which to learn.

Bethany Windsor (pictured left below), operations manager for Career Ready and Think Logistics, says: “The partnership with BIFA has never been more important. The shortage of customs professionals, for example, represents a wonderful opportunity for young people to step into the sector and kickstart their careers. It’s absolutely vital that we share the great opportunities available in the sector for young people, for whom logistics is often a hidden sector. This partnership will help achieve this and we’re delighted to be working with BIFA to inspire the next generation of young talent to ‘think logistics’.”

Carl Hobbis (pictured right), executive director and training development manager at BIFA, says: “Our partnership with Think Logistics is part of a campaign to encourage BIFA members to work with schools to promote careers in logistics, forwarding and the supply chain, and encourage students to consider them.”

BIFA believes that schools need employer engagement and apart from the blue-chip organisations, members generally don’t know where to start or who to approach, so it is encouraging its members to reverse this and reach out to schools in their vicinity.

Since the Brexit vote and the onset of the Covid pandemic, global supply chains have been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a career in international freight sector that manages those supply chains.

Apprenticeships are certainly something that a lot of students are considering, rather than taking on the debt associated with a degree, and we are reminding members that there is a specific apprenticeship standard for International Freight Forwarding, that BIFA was instrumental in establishing.

Many of our members are doing some fantastic things already, but we, as a trade association need to do more. These two initiatives are just the start and provide a framework to support members, and help them to attract the next generation to the freight forwarding and logistics industry.

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