The talent gap is the major challenge facing the Project Cargo Market, which will be growing over the next few years.
The Breakbulk Americas 2022 took place in Houston USA from 27 to 29 September, where Erhardt Projects was represented by its General Director and CEO of MEATI-APAC, Igor Muñiz, Alejandro Cañas, Deputy Manager and Alberto Rodríguez, Branch Manager of the Madrid Office.
This is certainly the leading space to catch up with the latest advances in the Project Cargo Sector as well as to strengthen ties with suppliers, partners and strategic clients from the American continent to intensify business activity in the region.
“After these last few years affected by the pandemic, Breakbulk USA 2022 provided us with the opportunity and the space to meet again face to face with all our usual suppliers and with those who are strategic for the development of Erhardt Projects in the American market. A very positive, participative and networking atmosphere,” says Igor Muñiz.
Infrastructure and Offshore Wind Energy Investments in the USA and LATAM, Project Cargo Market Outlook in the Energy Sector, Supply Chain Readiness to meet the growing demand for Clean Technology Projects, Technology Impact on Project Cargo or Short-Term Predictions are the topics that have highlighted this edition of the fair.
“The Project Cargo market is growing. Certainly, the energy transition, towards clean energies, driven by governments worldwide, opens important opportunities for heavy and oversized cargo logistics, in the interests of environmental sustainability. For us, it is a clear strategic commitment,” says Igor Muñiz.
The “talent gap” was also among the topics discussed at this edition of the fair.
Industry professionals acknowledged that different generations have remarkably different work styles and ethics. A baby boomer workhorse putting in 60 hours a week in the office and a millennial tech-savvy newbie who spends many of her work hours at a home office or in a car can be like fire and water.
In this regard, Igor Muñiz says that currently, one of the biggest problems we face in the sector is the difficulty of finding talent.
“If we are talking about senior profiles, it is difficult to find Project Cargo specialists in the market with the necessary experience, availability and level of commitment to be able to deal with the important and strategic logistics tenders that clients need to manage for their own companies.
“If we are talking about junior profiles, we find a gap in the way of conceiving the work of the younger generations and the demanding requirements of an activity in continuous movement like ours, which makes it difficult to attract and recruit them.”
The panellists of the round table focused on the Talent Gap, left us with the following considerations on this subject.
“We have five generations in this industry. They do not all have the same work ethic,” said Jacquie Young-Hall, maritime education outreach manager for Port Houston. “But each can still bring a great deal to the table.”
She cautioned that industry leaders need to see the value of different generations, and they need to mentor. Students and new applicants have to learn how to become part of the team, especially before they try to make changes. “That will get you isolated real quick,” she said.
Ibanga, logistics specialist at the Americas Procurement Centre at Air Liquide, said there is a divide between the jobs that today’s students are visualizing – replete with strong brands and sustainability and digitalization and competitive salaries – and the workaday world.
It may seem like a small thing to established companies with an older workforce but “a Gen Z student is not going to be inclined to go to work for a company with [a poor] social media presence,” said Kasey Eckstein, founder and executive director of Women in Maritime Operations, and president of Eckstein Trade & Transport.
Archaic technology is a red flag to young people. “We are also going to have a problem retaining the younger generation if we do not improve our technology,” said Eckstein.
The same goes for sustainability, but fortunately, maritime transportation is already the world’s most sustainable form of transportation, so maritime companies can use that in attracting young people to their workforce, said Eckstein.
John Hark, adjunct professor at Texas A&M and regional director at Bertling Logistics said, “Professionals have a role to talk to young people.” Companies have a role in fostering education if they want to ensure a strong talent pipeline.