I can’t count the number of times I’ve been contacted to help raise awareness of the logistics industry.
I’m constantly hearing there are heaps of great opportunities for young people to gain stable employment in the Freight and Logistics Industry. What I’ve found is that the Freight and Logistics Industry is not just for those living on the other side of the city, there are jobs right here in our own backyard! Melbourne’s South East is Victoria’s key manufacturing heartland and generates $40 billion annually. Almost 40 per cent of all shipping containers passing through the Port of Melbourne are coming to or from Melbourne’s South East.
To better understand the industry and the opportunities on offer I interviewed Brendan Bhagwandas, a Trainee turned Trainer with My Freight Careers.
Let’s start with a bit about yourself and your journey into the logistics Industry.
I was just a regular student who grew up in the Tullamarine – Keilor Park/Airport area. Culturally, it was all about going to university. I just got through Year 12 and then headed out into the big world, with no idea what I wanted to do.
My dad actually suggested the Freight Forwarding Industry, so I started having a deeper look and noticed that there were quite a few of my friends that were getting involved in this industry. They were interested in this industry as they could work close to home and didn’t require a degree to get a job. A lot of the roles available were entry level, so you were going to get trained in a job and get a qualification as well. That was really appealing to me. There were real jobs available and lots of opportunities to get involved. So, I applied and was successful in gaining a Traineeship/Job.
It’s been a really cool journey. I’m just a regular person, no Rhodes Scholar or anything like that and wasn’t sure of what career path to pursue. All I knew was that I wanted the Australian dream, to save money, buy a house and raise a family. Thanks to my 17 years in Freight, I’m now in that process.
I imagine that a lot of young people could be feeling worried about job stability. They’re being told they’ll have 17 different jobs over five different industries, but to hear that there’s this industry with stable work and you don’t have to stress about what the next thing is going to be, that would sound pretty good.
I completely agree, that’s our industry and that’s what we’re aiming for, stability. As long as you rock up to work every day and have a willingness to learn, there are plenty of opportunities; also it’s an international industry, so the skills are transferable!
Considering the work is quite stable, is there much opportunity to gain transferable skills?
I’ve worked for various companies within Australia and my skills are all transferable. The skills I’ve gain from my traineeship have been utilised years after. I’ve been able to travel and setup some teams in different countries as well, which coming from where I started 17 years ago as school leaver from Tullamarine, there’s no way I would’ve thought, I would be considered to take on such tasks.
For somebody who has no idea what International Freight Forwarding, and Logistics is, how would you describe it?
I’d ask if said person has ever been involved with any Internet shopping or anything on the Internet, which most people have. Then explain that if you have, then you’d be a part of a supply chain. Supply chain is the process of getting the goods from one place to another, from the manufacturer’s door to the customer. So, making the iPads, taking them to the airlines or the wharf, dealing with customs, quarantine and shipping it all the way to another part of the world and then delivering it to the customer’s door. Freight is pretty much the coordination of goods from A to B.Read more here
Did you have any hobbies or interests when you were young that you can see relates to your career now?
I’m a mad soccer supporter, you need discipline and structure to play and be selected for the team. That’s what I can see relates to my career now, discipline, structure and organisational skills. These are skills I’ve been able to use in the industry. Also the patience! The patience to know that if you keep training, you’re going to get out what you’re putting in. The patience to work alongside people. There are so many different personalities and cultures within any organisation, same with sport.
What do you think are the most important skills that young people could build on now to be to employable?
We like people who have had a part time job. People that have worked at Maccas or Coles type chains, because they’ve experienced busy periods, customer interaction, prioritising and organisational skills as well as different levels of stress and problem solving. So, when there are issues, you’ll understand what has happened, why and/or how to fix it. You may be able to come up with your own solutions one day by changing a process. Freight Forwarding changes with the times and these chains are very similar in that sense.
What are the common misconceptions of your industry?
The common misconceptions that we often hear are people thinking our industry is driving trucks and forklifts. It really isn’t. Freight Forwarding is about being apart of an organisation, perhaps within a department, organising shipments from exporters door to importers door, the collating of documents, for Customs clearance and trying to get everything ready within a tight timeframes whilst trying to provide a good customer experience. With experience, training & time you will find that often you are somewhat of a consultant and problem solver, assisting your customer with any challenges that may arise along the way. It is a lot different to that perception.
What made you consider doing a traineeship?
I was at that stage where I had finished high school, my friends were all going off to Uni, or TAFE and they were in the process of getting their qualifications and moving forward. I felt I needed to do something; otherwise I was going to be left behind. I was at an age where my parents were looking at me to make my next move. So, there was a bit of pressure at home. The traineeship was a way for me to get a nationally recognised qualification and gain a regular income. This meant, long term, I could travel around Australia and get a job if need be. It also allowed me to go to University afterwards as a pathway and I was building a solid foundation. I felt like all the boxes were being ticked. I didn’t want to just do a full-time job, they were out there, forklift driving, stocking shelves, things like that. Full time work, earning good money but no clear career progression. I sacrificed and invested in something that gave me experience and a qualification, if I wanted to try something else after I could because I could always come back to freight.
How did you go finding a job after the traineeship?
There are about 6000 competitors in Victoria alone with in the freight forwarding industry. There are a lot of companies that are looking for that new blood. The aim of a Traineeship is to be taken on by the host company after completing your traineeship. I was lucky enough to be taken on by the company that I was hosted out to and I ended up staying there for several years. It was really good. There were a lot of young people on traineeships so we were able to bounce off each other regarding course work and I made lifelong friends as well.
How did you come to be a trainer with My Freight Career?
I remember being given a chance to be a Trainee and thinking wow I would love to help someone one day like I was helped. Also I use to notice the Trainers coming into meet with the trainees and I had my own trainer as well. I saw what they did and it’s just something that always appealed to me. It’s funny, because it has always been sitting in the back of my mind, but never at the forefront. I got to a point, where I’d kind of done everything that I wanted to do at that stage of my career. I’d been involved with Freight Forwarding operation jobs like deliveries, imports, exports, accounts, customs, and customer service, I thought, I want something more. So, I wrote a letter to My Freight Career just saying thanks for the opportunity that you gave me and for investing in me such a long time ago. I also asked that if any opportunities should arise in the future to let me know. They actually had a job opportunity at the time and I was contacted and flown to Sydney to meet the extended team. I was offered a position, so you could say I’ve come full circle in a way. Trainee to Trainer!
How could the industry be better promoted to young people’s perceptions?
It is a tricky one. I think it helps to be involved in career days particularly at schools and just talk to the students. I mean, the word, ‘Freight’ – you don’t really hear it a lot when you’re at school. I didn’t know what it was when I was in school either. Maybe that word needs to be thrown around a bit more in society. There is a massive stigma around parents wanting kids to go to University. We hear that our traineeship would be a good second or third option if Uni doesn’t work out. I would love for people to be ready and come to us even before they finish high school. I know people that have left high school to become a mechanic, plumber or electrician. Those things are out there, everyone knows about them. It’d be awesome if people thought of our industry as an option and something they could invest in.
Learn more about My Freight Career here https://myfreightcareer.com.au/ and about how to start your career in the freight and logistics industry.
For more information on Kingston Councils South East Freight Hub campaign. Click here https://www.kingston.vic.gov.au/Community/Advocacy-Projects/Open-Advocacy/South-East-Freight-Hub
Check out what young people have to say about working in the freight and logistics industry below!