Nigel Farmer, human resources director at NYK Logistics UK, says the company is starting to take stock of its policy on graduate recruitment. Generally, it is happy to take graduates with any relevant degree, he says, although if all else is equal then a logistics degree would be an advantage. “There are a lot very bright graduates out there and we would not rule someone out because his degree was not in logistics.”
Farmer argues that the critical issue is whether the people have the right qualities to take on a management role in the organisation, and that comes down to things like attitude, character and leadership qualities. He points out that finding the right quality of applicant is a perennial problem.
Unipart takes on around ten logistics graduates each year with around the same number from other disciplines. Unipart has long been an evangelist for further corporate education with staff at not only studying for first degrees in logistics but many post-graduate qualifications, especially those certified by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Logistics graduate recruitment manager Peter Rose says: “I certainly would not rate any other discipline higher than a degree in logistics when recruiting but equally it would not be a barrier if a graduate came with another degree.
“We keep an open mind as to discipline but logistics graduates will normally have an advantage – at least until it comes to interview. At that point it is very much down to the individual.”
As well as taking on graduates, NYK also supports staff who wish to study for logistics degrees – Farmer highlights the case of one manager who has just completed a logistics MSc. However, managers more commonly want to study for MBAs. Logistics degrees are just a part of the mix, he says. “We have our own in-house programmes tailored to our needs which we run in cooperation with Cranfield and consequently have a high academic content.”
NYK has links with a number of universities and sponsoring awards and so on. “I would like to get more value out of the relationships we have, as well as building more relationships,” says Farmer.
Peter Rose says: “One criticism I would have of logistics courses is that they have still not grasped the impact of lean management principles which Unipart has now been successfully demonstrating for more than 20 years. Lean is all about driving out non value-added activities and working to just in time.
“Increasingly we are being judged by our clients on what the end customer experiences. All these marketplace factors are with us now but our experience is that universities are still not addressing them in the lecture theatre, ” says Rose.
Dorothea de Carvalho, director of professional development at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, says: “We encourage young people to study for logistics degrees through the accreditation of relevant degrees and publication of that information. We have also worked with Enterprise Education Trust in getting a chapter in their publication under their old name of Businessdynamics entitled The Business.
“We would suggest that our qualifications and other relevant professional and vocationally related qualifications (accredited by the UK government) are as valuable where someone has taken a degree which is not logistics related but then decide that they want to work in our area.”
The institute has just launched a new Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Transport which replaces the previous logistics Advanced Diploma and transport Advanced Diploma.
The Logistics Education Centre, formerly the National Materials Handling Centre, has a range of courses which it can offer on an in-house basis and adapted to the needs of the enterprise. It has two main public courses: Warehouse Operations & Design, and Logistics Management which are run several times every year since 1970. Courses on other topics are run from time to time as demand is identified in different areas.
Dorothea de Carvalho points out that universities often struggle to recruit students to undergraduate logistics courses because careers teachers generally don’t put forward logistics as a career option. As a result, she says, “There are some very good logistics degrees but increasingly these are offered at the postgraduate level.”