Imperial Logistics' commitment to addressing the skills gap in South Africa's supply chain industry was recognised at last night's 'Supply Chain Education Excellence Awards', presented by SAPICS (The Association for Operations Management of Southern Africa).
The Group's 'Fast Forward' skills development initiative was named the top 'Corporate Supply Chain Education Programme of the Year' amid competition from other industry players that included Barloworld Logistics, UTI and Value Logistics.
Fast Forward takes a practical approach to growing the industry's skills base, by providing a framework of supply chain and logistics education and professional development for current and aspiring supply chain professionals. Colette Wessels, Imperial Logistics' training and development manager, explains that the Fast Forward initiative operates across various levels - from facilitating workplace entry to in-house supply chain management programmes, tertiary education support and industry collaboration and research.
“The workplace entry element of the programme is facilitated through the Imperial Logistics Graduate Development Programme, which sees top achievers from tertiary institutions recruited annually to gain hands-on experience throughout all areas of the logistics and supply chain management industry. Fast Forward receives R750 000 in annual investment in the form of logistics and supply chain management bursaries,” she states. A variety of in-house supply chain management development initiatives aim to equip employees with competencies at foundational, intermediate and advanced levels.
On the industry collaboration and research side, Fast Forward includes a partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), with which Imperial Logistics is developing supply chain education programmes and is co-ordinating industry research such as the annual State of Logistics survey. Final-year project coaching and mentorship is also being undertaken, as well as guest lecturing and sponsorships, in partnership with tertiary institutions and professional bodies.
Fast Forward receives a significant percentage of Imperial Logistics' total skills development spend, which was increased from just under R37 million in 2009/10 to R55 million in the 2010/11 financial year, and the Group aims to achieve some very specific outcomes through the programme.
Imperial Logistics CEO Marius Swanepoel elaborates: “At a national level, we are striving to address demographic inequities while developing scarce priority skills - industrial engineers, for example, and specialised supply chain management skills. Our goals are aligned with government's 'decent work agenda' (New Growth Path). At an industry level, we aim to elevate the visibility of logistics and supply chain management, while at an organisational level, our aim is to give our people access to lifelong learning, thereby ensuring career mobility for them.
“Through Fast Forward, we are actively pursuing developmental outcomes for our economy, our industry and our people,” Swanepoel concludes.
The annual Supply Chain Education Excellence Awards, which are now in their sixth year, aim to recognise and reward excellence in supply chain management education, raising awareness of individuals, organisations and educators who are going the extra mile to address the skills deficit in the supply chain and operations management profession. Last night's awards function was held in Melrose, Johannesburg. The judging criteria for the Corporate Supply Chain Education Programme of the Year category included the number of students educated during the year, evidence that the organisation supports the national skills strategy and evidence that the attendance of courses provides for career improvement or progression.