Feature / 09 Apr 2023

Tapping into young talent

Meet Nur Raeis Hann Bin Chairilyany (Hann). He is a 20-year-old student at Singapore Polytechnic, working as an intern with GAC Singapore as he looks forward to beginning a career in shipping.

Hann’s ambition to become part of the maritime industry follows a family tradition - his father was a ship captain. He is taking the first steps on his planned career path by studying for a Diploma in Maritime Business and is now getting real hands-on experience in GAC’s Shipping Department.

He came to the attention of the company as a recipient of the book prize award, which GAC Singapore has sponsored for many years as part of the MaritimeONE scholarship programme, spearheaded by the Singapore Maritime Foundation. Hann’s academic course requires students to complete a six-month industrial attachment and GAC was more than happy to host him for the internship.

Hann says: “Through this internship, I hope to gain more knowledge and skills that I am unable to learn in school, as well as experience of the real work of a maritime professional hence, to give me a head start to pursuing a career in maritime.”

Generation next
GAC Singapore Company Manager Sofie Bager says connecting with schools, colleges and training institutions and promising students like Hann is a good way to tap into the new generation of talent.

“We offer internships to promising young people like Hann based on their individual merit,” she adds. “It enables us to identify and assess young people with potential and built the relationship with potential employees before they complete their studies and enter working life.”

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The company’s approach is inspired by GAC Group President Pontus Fredriksson’s vision that highlights the importance of recruiting, retaining and developing the right talent.

It is part of GAC Singapore’s Human Resources sustainability initiative in line with several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 4 - Quality Education.

It seeks to attract, develop and retain talents at all levels, be they fresh graduates or mid-career professionals seeking a change. They look at transferable and soft skills, attitude, willingness to learn as well as the candidate’s formal qualifications.

“The next generation of shipping and logistics professionals bring add diversity and fresh perspective, says Sofie. “Being open to candidates of all sorts therefore benefits us as the company as it gives us access a wider talent pool which can provide new insights.”

The company has recently launched Logistics Trainee Programme to prepare candidates fresh out of school or without the professional experience for a career in logistics with GAC Singapore. It rotates them through various departments and logistics business sectors, in parallel with structured training. Two trainees are already on board, currently to the Energy Department, learning by dedicating 70% of their time to on-the-job training, 20% mentorship from managers and senior colleagues, and 10% through job-specific courses from GAC Corporate Academy and external providers.

From intern to employee
Joreen Tan, now a Project Account Supervisor in the Energy Department, started her journey with GAC Singapore as an intern attached to the Ship Spares team whilst studying Logistics Management at Ngee Ann Polytechnic as a Logistics Management student.

“I guess I was at the right place at the right time,” she says. “During the six months, I was given the chance to learn from basic operations and had the freedom to ask questions, which really sparked my interest.

“As a whole, GAC is a good learning space because we are not being tied down to a single scope of work. I was given opportunities to learn things which might be out of norm, whilst building a portfolio for myself.”

Around the world
The same attitude to connecting with young people considering a career in shipping or logistics is seen a GAC companies around the world.

GAC Bahrain supports the Ministry of Labour’s three-year National Employment Programme in recruiting and training Bahraini nationals, especially fresh graduates. The company currently has 16 local staff under this wage support programme.

After an enforced break due to COVID-19, GAC Jordan has restarted its training programme though which it liaises with universities to provide training opportunities for students with a possible eye on offering them a job if they display the required skills.

GAC UK has an apprenticeship scheme across Freight Services and has a growing team of apprentices undertaking an academic qualification in logistics. It also works with Universities in Aberdeen to take on graduates in the Energy Logistics department.

Every year, GAC Denmark aims to recruit two trainees on a two-year contract which combines day-to-day work with seven weeks of school. After completing their term and passing a final exam, the have gained a valuation office education with shipping and freight forwarding.

GAC Norway also considers offering internships if approached by young people with the right attributes, and periodically cooperates with the government agencies when they have candidates that qualify for work experience programs.

In Sweden, GAC cooperates with schools, primarily the Chalmers University in Gothenburg, and annual events where companies meet and discuss with students who could be candidates for internship. The company also works with Stockholm University, giving presentations for students seek internship or employment after completing their studies.

Other initiatives
Nikos Marmatsouris, GAC’s Senior Marketing Manager mentors university students and gives lectures on maritime matters. He is an advocate for “Project Connect” – a non-profit organisation endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation which aims to enhance opportunities for youth by offering internships and placements in ship operations departments and onboard vessels.

At an event organised by Great Place to Work ™ in Colombo this year, Director/CEO of GAC Sri Lanka/McLarens Group, Dr Ravi Edirisinghe, shared his insights on employee engagement and retention. GAC’s partner in Sri Lanka, the McLarens Group was one of ten organisations recognised at the event as ‘Best Workplaces’ for outperforming in the Great Place to Work methodology.

Keeping competitive

Individual GAC companies’ approach to connecting with young professionals looking to build a career in shipping or logistics varies from country to country. But throughout the GAC world, the focus is on remaining competitive – and that includes attracting the best people to deliver top services to its customers.

As Group President Pontus Fredriksson says: “We need to have good people who are trained and skilled at what they do – and who want to stick around and build their careers with us. It won't matter how good our technology and processes are if we don't have the human horsepower to make them work.”

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