Our Industry Talent Gap Is Scary Real

An interview from Breakbulk Americas 2019 Summer Reunion with John Hark, Bertling Logistics

Is the talent gap real?

People talk about the talent gap that we have—and the gap is real. If you look at some of the statistics and industry polls, they say that right now there are six positions for every one qualified person, and that will soon rise to nine positions.

Further, 32 percent of companies say they don't have a pipeline built for new employees. And then there was another poll that was pretty scary: Only 38 percent of maritime companies thought they had the staff on board to deal with the challenges in the industry. So, when you couple those factors along with 10,000 people turning 65 every day until 2030, we absolutely have a need for more young people to come into this business.

There are many initiatives in the Houston area specifically that are bringing young people from the junior high and high school level through university into our business. And that culminates once a year with Breakbulk’s Education Day. 

What advice would you to give a student or recent graduate who is looking for a job in this field?

There are plenty of opportunities! I tell a lot of the students that I mentor that they need to be culturally aware of what's going on in the world. They need to have knowledge of the international trade patterns. Then they also need to really practice skills around business writing and technology—that means being up to date with what's going on with blockchain and robotic process automation. 

I tell the students that many human decisions can be made in a second by a computer, so they really need to be focusing on jobs that require them to think, to be creative, to empathize and to lead teams. Those are the jobs that are going to be the ones that we have a tough time filling.

I encourage them to take advantage of opportunities to get involved in the industry through the schools where they are, and of course, coming to Breakbulk Education Day because that's such a valuable opportunity to meet directly with the people in the business.
John Hark has been involved with Breakbulk’s support of industry education through its Jerry Nagel Education Day and other initiatives for more than 10 years. But industry education is not a once-a-year endeavor for Hark. He is deeply involved with the greater Houston education community, and a strong voice for filling the talent gap across the breakbulk and project cargo sector.

Get Your Career Started at Breakbulk Americas 2019

Students and others entering the job market are invited 
to submit their resumes to Breakbulk and we will distribute them to all of our participating exhibitors, sponsors and Breakbulk Masters (EPCs, manufacturers, oil & gas companies, etc.). Include graduating year if applicable and where you are willing to work: In my state, in the U.S. or throughout the world. Submit to:  devan.rasmussen@breakbulk.com.

Our People, Our Future – The Next Generation  
Wednesday, October 9
3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Breakbulk Main Stage 

Diana Davila, Houston Branch Manager, UTC Overseas 

Rick Padia, VP Commercial, Agility Project Logistics
Kylie Lung, ECMC Program Intern, Agility Project Logistics
John Hark, Chartering Director-North America, Bertling Logistics 
Mario Rodriguez, Student, Texas A&M Unviersity-Galveston



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