A looming workforce supply gap in the freight forwarding sector has caused the industry to reach out to over one million high school students.
“In five to ten years we won’t have enough young people coming through with the right high-level skills,” Brian Lovell, the CEO of the Australian Federation of International Forwarders said today in Melbourne, Australia.
Workforce planning: supply shortfall
Lovell was hosting the national conference for Australian forwarders and was moderating a panel discussion on workforce planning. He said that the freight forwarding industry would not be able to fill middle- and senior-level roles owing to looming sector-wide staff shortages.
Addressing the skills gap, he said that future industry workers and management would come from schools.
However, a research project carried out by the Federation revealed there was an image-problem.
Hardly anyone in Australian schools had even heard of the freight forwarding industry.
“We found that school careers advisors only discuss careers they know about and they didn’t know about us,” he told the assembled delegates.
Consultant Adrian Denyer, an expert on vocational training, was engaged to survey the existing Australian forwarding workforce. He found that only one percent of the existing workforce was even aware of the freight forwarding industry before they joined the sector. It was an identical situation with High School students – only one percent even knew the freight forwarding sector existed.
Joe Meli of recruitment and training company MyFreightCareer told delegates “you have to start early. My daughter’s in year 10. They’re already making career choices.”
A “year 10” student in Australia is typically between the age of 14 or 16 depending on a variety of factors.
Shhh! Don’t let the parents know!
Denyer carried out a research program with high school students to find out how best to engage with the target mid- to-late teen demographic.
He was told that the preferred social media platform for that cohort is Snapchat or Instagram. The kids apparently avoid Facebook because that’s where their parents are active!
Denyer was also advised by the teens to do short videos featuring young people working in freight careers.
Make your move
Six videos were produced by the Federation under the “Make Your Move” brand. A “push-ads” campaign was carried out so that the target demographic was exposed to the videos. This was backed up with an informative website and social media presence.
The campaign resulted in a reach into the target demographic of 1.17m exposures. Even though the teens had urged the avoidance of Facebook, nonetheless, about 386,000 people were reached via that platform. Another 236,000 people were reached by Instagram; 527,000 were reached via Snapchat and 24,400 were reached via the “Google Network”.
The Federation also carried out 5,240 shows nation-wide and visited 587 careers advisers.
“It doesn’t mean that they will all apply, but they will have heard of us… the goal is for this industry to be as well known as, say, the hospitality sector. It’s going to take a long time,” Lovell said.