Our editor, Deepesh Patel (DP) sat down with Zencargo’s Sales Director, Sam Greenhalgh (SG) to discuss what changes need to take place to make the shipping industry more attractive to young professionals.

How can we reform the shipping industry to attract young professionals?

DP: Is there a gap in education within the shipping and freight industry?

SG: There is a gap in the perception of the industry. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the shipping and logistics world that the younger generation is not aware of. My family has worked in the industry for years so I have seen it evolve, particularly, as I took the traditional route of growing within the industry. I started out by working in a warehouse moving my way up to different positions within different organisations, and I have truly seen a shift in the industry.

The HGV driver shortage comes as no surprise…

DP: The HGTV crisis we’re in in the UK now is it as a result of Brexit and the increased checks and the lack of workers coming into the UK as HGV drivers? What are the causes of that?

SG: I think that the driver shortage crisis was pretty evident well, before Brexit, we’ve had a long tail of knowing that we are going to have a shortage in the UK of drivers, and if we rely solely on other European countries or on European drivers to solve that shortage, I think that’s quite short-sighted. We need to invest as a country in the infrastructure, the support and in ways to get younger people coming into this industry.

I think it is important to ask: why would anyone want to become an HGV driver right now when the conditions aren’t great, the facilities, the security and the length of hours away from home or travelling on the road are long? All of these things add up, and I think that we need to think about how to turn into it an attractive option. It is important to focus on the following questions:

  • How do we make it more attractive?
  • Should we invest in better services, better parking facilities?
  • How can we invest in tech and apps?
  • Should we provide gyms, good food and a network for people to socialise?
  • How do we ensure drivers have secure parking?

All these different aspects are to making increasing the attractiveness of the industry. Furthermore, reducing barriers to entry, particularly with regards to the experience needed to go up through the ranks and ensuring the pay is sufficient can have a positive impact on the number of people that go through the training courses and commit to a career in trucking.

So, how do we make the shipping industry sexy?

DP: How can we shift young professionals who are entering the early stages of their career into freight forwarding, shipping and supply chains and make it more of an appealing career path?

SG: I think there are many different avenues into this industry. I left school at 16 and went straight into a business and I’m not saying that that’s what people should do, but we should also not discount that that is a really credible route to gain a lot of expertise and experience in the industry. This route allows young people to gain valuable experience and be exposed to the excitement of the industry, rather than taking people on as apprentices and sitting them in as cheap labour and do admin roles.

The second route is to make the industry seem sexy to people that are coming out of university. How do we open people’s eyes to the breadth of the industry? This industry deals with supply chains and trade finance which are two massive markets so there are endless opportunities of areas to go into. How do we open that up and make it really exciting for those people? I think podcasts like this, LinkedIn and all of these events that have been happening due to COVID and the Global Freight Crises are putting us under the spotlight – we need to remain there. We need to shout about our industry and talk about how exciting it is because we are one of the foundational pillars of international trade, supply chain and shipping and freight.