Logistics sector looks to draw young professionals

Trade group ties up with NTUC and WDA to bring in advanced supply chain technology

The logistics and supply chain sector is ramping up its efforts to attract more white-collar professionals, especially younger ones.

Professional association Supply Chain Asia (SCA) yesterday signed on with the labour movement to become one of its 32 U Associates, a professional guild network.

SCA trains logistics and supply chain professionals and has more than 1,000 members locally.

At the Harley-Davidson Distribution Centre yesterday, it inked two memorandums of understanding with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. The three groups will work together on bringing in advanced supply chain technology to reduce manpower needs in an industry known to be highly dependent on labour.

NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, who observed the signing, said: "There is tremendous potential for Singapore to be a test bed for new and innovative logistics concepts...that connect the e-commerce world to the real world.

"Connectivity can become our new competitive advantage. We are not looking just at people connecting to us, but through us."

The first initiative under the new partnership will be the Young Logistics Leadership Programme, a two-month training scheme for young professionals in the sector.

The programme, which is due to start in August with 60 people, targets those with at least a diploma and no more than five years of working experience. It costs $1,500 for Singaporeans and permanent residents and $3,000 for foreigners.

SCA president Paul Lim said the industry is a "culture shock" for young newcomers, who tend to leave quickly. "Many young ones come in thinking they can be manager the next day, that they can be a supply chain director who sits in an office. But there is a lot of manual work," he said.

Mr Timothy Kooi, 33, who works in customer solutions and innovations at logistics giant DHL, is interested in applying for the programme.

"A lot of my generation think jobs in logistics are just warehouse operators or truck drivers, but there are opportunities that are far more interesting and complex, and those require the best minds," he said.

SCA will also launch a hackathon contest for start-ups, commercial organisations and students from tertiary institutions to come up with solutions for supply chain problems. The top three winners will receive prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 from DHL.

The supply chain industry accounts for 150,000 to 180,000 local jobs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2016, with the headline 'Logistics sector looks to draw young professionals'. Print Edition | Subscribe