The British International Freight Association’s (BIFA) Young Forwarder Network (YFN) has reached a century of events.
A tour of the DP World Southampton container terminal saw the network achieve this notable landmark of face-to-face and virtual networking events four years after its inception in 2019.
Carl Hobbis, an executive director at BIFA, who has management responsibility for the trade association’s training and development services declared: “To achieve this just four years after launch, and despite the pandemic, is very worthwhile.
“It is a testimony to the young forwarders who have stepped up and created several regional networking groups, which they run, and which are designed to help early talent, apprentices and young employees of the trade association’s members develop their knowledge and professional skills.
“When it was launched, BIFA said it thought it would prove to be a major step forward for the industry in developing its future freight forwarding ambassadors and leaders. We saw it as an integral part of BIFA’s attempts to improve the promotion of the sector, making it more attractive to younger people and providing forums from which to learn.
“Four years on that has provided to be the case. Over 1,000 individuals have participated in the YFN’s events since 2019, – which range from the educational, such as presentations on specific aspects of the freight and logistics industry, to purely social, such as quiz nights and bake offs – and the YFN Group on LinkedIn is now a community of over 2,000 followers.
“The young people who are participating in the events are developing and improving their knowledge of the sector and trends within it, as well as building their skill sets and learning from others; whilst developing their own social and business networks.”
Commenting on the achievement of the YFN over the last four years, Rudee Bertie, a specialist in crossborder import/export gateway eCommerce logistics and the first ever speaker at a YFN event in 2019, said: “I am thrilled to see how much the YFN has developed. The achievements and progress made to date is remarkable.
“Young forwarders, which are critical to the survival of a business sector that underpins the UK’s international visible trade, have clearly embraced the vision set out and invested in by BIFA in 2019.
“In a time of ever-increasing technology and remote connectivity, networking via face-to-face meetings and direct communication has never been more important.”
Kyle Lawrence from OIA Global, who has been involved with the YFN since it first started and has been chair of the virtual YFN, which was set up in 2020, when the pandemic struck, added: “The YFN is an amazing experience. It provides an opportunity to help grow your network and I encourage all young people to take part. It also provides a platform to share experiences with fellow young people and learn together.”
Chris Packwood, managing director of Geodis Freight Forwarding UK and Ireland, who is an employer governor of the YFN, said: “It has helped us all to attract and retain young people to our industry. It has supported their development and understanding, by providing access to events and people, which can only be a good thing for the future.”Hobbis concludes: “What we now need is for all BIFA members to actively encourage and support attendance of their younger staff at YFN events. “Since the pandemic, it is very easy for people to do things from the comfort of their own home or office, but the value of meeting people face-to-face should not be underestimated. “I appreciate that companies want a return on their investment of time, but I am convinced that they will get this by supporting BIFA’s YFN initiative and its activities. 100% of the time, people learn something new from attending a YFN event, and this knowledge is brought back and benefits members’ businesses.”