Andrew Sim, CEO of J&T Express Singapore

This ensures that the organisation has the necessary leadership talent and skills to keep pace with emerging business trends in the fast-evolving industry, says Andrew Sim, CEO of J&T Express Singapore.

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Logistics is an indispensable enabler of the global economy, connecting suppliers to manufacturers, and merchants to customers, both domestically and globally. The logistics sector is also at the forefront of globalisation and technology advancements, as the sector constantly evolves to keep pace with emerging business trends.

Many businesses are jumping onto the e-commerce bandwagon to cater to the shift in consumers’ shopping preferences towards online shopping due to the global pandemic. As a result, the digitalisation of the logistics sector has accelerated at an unprecedented pace. To meet the growing demand created by the e-commerce boom, logistics businesses are increasingly leveraging technologies to upscale their functionalities to provide better, faster, and more agile supply chains.

However, the key for logistics businesses to stay competitive and achieve success in this tech-driven future is not just about adopting more technologies, but investing in talent.

Businesses can easily acquire the latest technology, but adapting to an ever more digital future will require engaging talent with the right technological capabilities.

Upskilling existing employees to close the gap between talent supply and demand is critical in truly future-proofing the organisation.

New generation of skills required

The prominence of technology has never been felt more strongly than today in the logistics sector. Emerging business and technology trends such as big data, predictive data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are bringing disruptive changes to supply chains. While advancements in technology have resulted in greater productivity, this also implies that a new generation of skills will be required of logistics professionals, especially in the areas of logistics information systems, vertical specialisation, logistics solutions, and programme management.

Logistics professionals will now be required to know how to use technological solutions such as robotics and automation effectively to improve productivity and operations.

Analysing big data to optimise assets and leverage predictive algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to boost efficiency and enhance capacity will also be essential skills for the tech-driven future.

At J&T Express, we equip our operations team with technical skills through software learning courses focusing on data analysis and system management. By doing so, we aim to improve the daily operating efficiency and optimise existing resources. We are committed to delivering experiences and hence the service culture is essential to ensure the best experience possible for our customers.

The growing demand for logistics professionals with this new generation of skills has inevitably led to a gap between talent supply and demand, especially in the short term. This talent gap can be closed by actively recruiting talent who are equipped with the highly sought-after skills.

For J&T Express Singapore, we have started a recruitment drive for talent with relevant skillsets and experiences in various areas such as software development, data analytics, and automation. We have also been reaching out to tertiary institutions like ITE, polytechnics, and universities for collaborations in the form of internships and graduates’ programmes.

We hope to share our knowledge and expertise with the younger generation, and at the same time enable cross-learning by introducing new talent to the team.

Future-proofing the organisation 

However, the rapid digitalisation across industries has dramatically intensified the war for talent. With the limited pool of talent equipped with this new generation of skills, it is also vital for logistics businesses to future-proof the organisation from within, by upskilling existing employees through relevant training.

We pride ourselves in constantly upskilling our team, and we place great emphasis on ensuring that our employees are empowered to be involved in different levels of the business beyond their own business unit. An initiative by our training department involves working with various teams to strategise and customise training for individuals, such as soft or interpersonal skills like communication.

Upskilling of employees is not a one-stage process, but a continuous development journey for them to explore their dormant strengths and capabilities.

It is essential to select the right candidate for training and adopt a high-quality and effective curriculum to train employees on specific skills.

For example, the content of the training courses should be easily digestible and include real-life use cases to help them understand better. Educating new staff on the core values of the company is a crucial training course to future-proof the organisation as it can help to cultivate a positive company culture, improve the team’s integrity, and maximise their efficiency and capabilities.

At J&T Express, we also have several other training programmes for employees with the aim of building team recognition and driving up service quality.

For the logistics sector in which a portion of the employees such as the drivers are always on the go, microlearning through bite-sized modules is a great way to provide upskilling without taking too much of employees’ time.

Allowing the content to be accessible from mobile devices can also provide greater flexibility for all employees including those deskless positions to complete the courses at their convenience.

Conducting specific assessments after the training is also necessary. It can help employees understand how much knowledge they have gained from the training and encourage them to apply what they have learned in their daily tasks to increase efficiency and productivity.

At J&T Express, we have digitised our training modules so that our drivers can access them easily via their phones. We have also broken down the training modules into smaller bite-size topics to ensure that the training can be well-received and digested by our drivers. To gauge the efficacy of the programme, we use quiz sessions as a requirement on these programmes to evaluate their understanding and the efficacy of the training.

Looking ahead

In the future, technologies for the logistics sector will only become more diverse and inventive. We believe that continuous training is crucial for the team’s growth and development of the company. With the current COVID-19 situation, our teams have been working from home with limited social interactions, which makes it harder to organise training.

However, we have come up with alternative ways to ensure that our employees continue to undergo training during this period. For example, we encourage staff to leverage SkillsFuture Singapore’s programmes to conduct self-learning and upskilling. Our employees can also receive financial support from the company for specific courses.

With the assistance of technology, we have also started in-house training on platforms such as Zoom which has helped facilitate the training process by making communication easier within the team, from managers to the front line staff.  

The most important asset to an organisation is not the data or technology, but its people. Hence, the key to succeeding in the tech-driven future starts from investing in talent. This will ensure that the organisation has the necessary leadership talent and skills to keep pace with emerging business trends in the fast-evolving industry.

Photo / Provided (Andrew Sim, CEO, J&T Express Singapore)

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