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Logistics: the key to international competency

Business Development Manager, Transworld Cargo, Frank Gschwender.

Business Development Manager, Transworld Cargo, Frank Gschwender.

Director, Centre for Logistics at the Polytechnic, Albin Jacobs.

Director, Centre for Logistics at the Polytechnic, Albin Jacobs.

“As an industry we have a problem with skills. I personally cannot overemphasize the need for more than just theory. Experience is immensely important,”  said Business Development Manager, Frank Gschwender of Transworld Cargo.
Internationally recognised, Transworld Cargo, a logistic and transport company, is in partnership with the Polytechnic’s Centre for Logistics and has recently taken in two of the four students that were sent to the Franksburg University in Germany.
According to the Director for the Centre for Logistics, Albin Jacobs, the exchange programme started only last year after the course was introduced in 2010. “The reason why we did this is simply because theory alone is not enough. Therefore we send out four of our best performing students to Germany for internships and in return, the Franksburg University also sent four of their students to Namibia for their internships as the industry continues to emphasize the lack of skills from a practical point of view.”
Jacobs said it is important for students to be exposed to international logistics as logistics is important to world trade and international exposure is greatly beneficial. “Logistics is a business based on international trade. One needs to have a good understanding on current world trade.”
He said a problem often encountered is that students that study Logistics, find it difficult to find suitable work in the fields that they have studied and end up in totally different fields from what they  studied.
Jacobs said this sort of learning exposure will help graduates be more capable as they are given the opportunity to gain the best possible working experiences. “If we don’t send them out, we won’t be internationally competent. When we train Namibian students only for our environment then it is of no benefit to the economy as these students need the knowledge from an international perspective as well. And that is the very same reason why German students come here for experience purposes.”
Each year, four of the best students from the Bachelor of Logistics Honours programme at the Polytechnic are sent to Germany for a Period of 3 to 6 months where they pick up experiential learning from logistics and transport companies.
TransWorld Cargo’s Gschwender said the reason why they support such initiatives is simply because there is a need for people with an international perspective on international transporting. “If we need wind turbines from Korea to Walvis Bay, we need people that can do the logistics therefore global expertise becomes handy as one needs to understand and apply hard and soft skills. Logistics is a global village operation that needs competent people that have the ideas and experience.”
Jacobs complemented the first students that have arrived from Germany for their hard work but said they are still in their early days. As the internships progress, he expects to see positive outcomes of the international exposure.
Transworld Cargo has nine trainees of which two are from the Centre of Logistics for a nine month in-house training period. Gschwender emphasized the importance of continuously supporting and training the youngsters to broaden their skills base and get them up to standard.
He stressed that Logistics is an integral part of development and is stated in the New National Development Plan as it is fundamental in working towards Vision 2030.
“There is a need for human capital, we can have all the resources but of what use is it if we do not have the human capacity for it,” stated Gschwender.
He said that with the expansion of the Walvis Bay harbour,  more logistics expertise will be needed therefore it is important to train and foster logistic experts as “our own people can prove unable to fill the skilled staff positions and this could depict that as a country, we are not competitive enough.”
Jacobs said that although they would like to send more than the four students on an annual basis, financing to send a pool of students is costly and it takes a lot of sacrifices from the students. Without the support of private companies, the Centre will not be able to grow the exchange programme.
As from next year, the Polytechnic will introduce a Master’s programme in Logistics.

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