Van der Maarel: We need better communication with the youth
Fresh off his Young Port Talent 2023 award, Tomas van der Maarel has taken it upon himself to advocate for clearer and better channels of communication between the port businesses and the youth that the project logistics sector needs.
Looking at the events organised by the industry, and for the industry, the share of experienced workforce far outweighs that of the younger generations. “I think that young people are interested in the project logistics industry, but there is room for improvement,” Van der Maarel tells Project Cargo Journal.
He believes that despite the companies being eager to give young talent a chance to learn about the project logistics industry, the communication towards the younger people is lacking. “I believe that the young people don’t really know what goes on within the port, and within the logistics industry, as it is far from what they learn through the education system,” van der Maarel says.
At the university level, you start learning about international trade, the supply-demand economics, but the way maritime trade is done can only be learned from within the industry. “In my particular example, I learned more about the practical details of the industry when I started working in the industry.
Tomas van der Maarel has started with Broekman Logistics as a management trainee, and since September 1, he has been appointed Manager Business Development, responsible for PMC (Product Market Combinations) General Cargo, within Broekman Logistics.
Apart from his business responsibilities, van der Maarel is looking to make the port businesses, and the logistics industry more known among the younger generations. “I think that this can be done via channels more closer to the youth, either Instagram or TikTok, or whatever social media platform works best,” he says, adding that his efforts will also include more physical presence, and presentations in schools, showing to the young generations
what is being done within the port business.
Visibility of the business is a major target, either bringing the younger generations to the port, or bringing the port to them, or a combination of both. “It is no longer the dirty job it once was. Although some aspects of this remain, there is so much automation that the way things are being done is changing,” he says.
“If you look at the container terminals in the Port of Rotterdam, you don’t need a crane operator on site really, but one in the office who oversees the operation, handling the loading or unloading of containers via a joystick, almost like in a game,” van der Maarel says. He believes that showing the behind the scenes of these operations through short videos can garner interest from the younger generation,
Van der Maarel further noted that even the financial aspect of the business is adequate, on top of the experience that such a business brings with oftentimes, non-standardised cargo that brings specific challenges each time.
Can Youth Solve the Labour Shortage Issues
Speaking of the labour struggles that the industry experienced over the recent years, Van der Maarel says that the situation seems to be at a turning point. “There is still some shortage, but things are looking up, and we are seeing more enquiries about our vacancies,” he says.
It has to be said that the loosened Covid-19 restrictions have enabled more movement within the labour market, and the economic circumstances are also having an effect. However, his aim is to bring younger people to the port business as it could definitely solve at least part of the issue.
The main challenge is the visibility, according to van der Maarel, and making sure people find the port and the project logistics industry a lot easier when they are searching for a new job, and making sure to introduce the port to the younger generations.