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Career workshop to develop air cargo professionals

By Martin Roebuck on April 28, 2014

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) is set to launch its first professional development workshop this summer in the Netherlands.

Secretary general Doug Brittin announced the three-day Air Cargo Professional Development Program during TIACA’s Executive Summit in Istanbul. Its objective is to develop management and decision-making skills, including financial analysis, marketing and teambuilding.

“The new program addresses the specific needs of the airfreight industry and will give students the practical information and skills they need to succeed on a day-to-day basis,” Brittin says. “The workshops will also provide the perfect backdrop for raising questions and thoughts, creating the process of change required for industry development and growth. Students will build connections and support through networking.”

Up to 25 participants are expected to attend the first program to be held at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on June 25-27. The course fee is US$2,000 (1,445.50 euros) and delegates can register online at www.tiaca.org.

The program is intended to fill the knowledge gap identified in a report released by a TIACA-led Education and Training Task Force in January.

The report, based on a two-year study by TIACA’s Education and Research Committee (ERC), working in conjunction with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), concluded that focused courses were needed to teach vital “soft skills” in order to avoid a leadership crisis in the industry.

Charles Edwards, volunteer chair of the ERC’s Council of Associates and executive director of the North Carolina Center for Global Logistics, was the principle investigator for the Task Force. He says the program was not targeted exclusively at airlines but sought to involve cargo handlers, freight forwarders and other stakeholders – “the wider cross-section, the better.”

It was unhelpful for airlines simply to sit with other airlines in training forums, Edwards emphasizes. TIACA was in a unique position because of its broad membership profile.

“The need is for market analysis, competitive analysis and financial analysis, not filling an air waybill or loading an aircraft,” he says. “Knowledge transfer is important, but younger people especially may not have had this opportunity. We lost a lot of good ones [experienced managers] through the downturn.”

The program would allow first-level supervisors and others without specific supply chain management training to get exposure to case studies, and work in teams to solve complex multidisciplinary problems, adds Jim Edgar, regional marketing director for Boeing and ERC chairman

“The air cargo supply chain has unique characteristics, and we’ve got to equip people,” Edgar says. The industry had depended for too long on on-the-job training and trial and error.

“For some time, TIACA has been concerned about cultivating the next generation of leaders and making sure they’re properly prepared. It’s been a long journey, but we believe this program will fill the gap between the industry’s existing technical training and higher degree programs,” he says.

Edgar says he hopes the Schiphol course would be followed in the fall by similar initiatives in other locations, and TIACA aims in the longer term to create a certified qualification.