Following last year’s launch of the BIFA Young Forwarders Network (YFN), its first meeting of the Northern Ireland Region has taken place.
The YFN has been set-up to provide young members, or those new to the industry, with a platform to network with their peers, learn from industry professionals and boost their continuous professional development.
The well attended meeting, which took place at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners offices, was also attended by Seetec who are currently providing apprenticeship training in the Belfast area as well as representatives of Export and Freight magazine who will promote the YFN to the industry in Northern Ireland.
BIFA Northern Ireland’s Carson McMullan says he’s been very encouraged by the response from employers and managers, as well as freight forwarders who are new to the industry.
“BIFA began this initiative about 18 months ago and has been very successful in the rest of the UK, so we are hoping to replicate that success here in Northern Ireland,” says Carson. “The idea is to help young forwarders develop their careers through knowledge improvement, networking opportunities and social interaction, among other appropriate avenues, without distracting or disrupting them from their everyday work.
“We weren’t sure how the launch of the YFN here would be supported, but we have been delighted by the reaction. One of the employers at the meeting commented that it was ‘really what we want and need,’ so that was good to hear.”
The YFN will meet on a quarterly basis, coupled with visits to organisations such as Belfast Harbour, Dublin Port, major manufacturers in Northern Ireland and other places of industry interest.
In summary, its aims are to:
- Boost industry knowledge
- Share skills and experiences from industry professionals
- Inspire to promote the logistics and forwarding sector to the next generation
- Support personal network development
- Provide exclusive opportunities to visit places of industry interest
The Northern Ireland group joins regional groups that have already been established in Anglia, the Midlands, North West, London East and London West, bringing the total number of regional groups to six.
Carl Hobbis, BIFA’s training development manager, says: “We have had a really good response to the launch of the YFN and have already held over 20 well-attended events that are assisting in the development of future freight forwarding ambassadors and leaders for the sector.
“By creating several regional networking groups, run by young forwarders, the YFN aims to help early talent and young BIFA members develop their knowledge and professional skills, but in a more social, event-driven environment.
“Each networking group has a chairperson and vice-chairperson, and a local organising committee, governed by at least two regional employers, as well as a BIFA representative. Less than one year since it was created, the YFN is really helping to improve the promotion of the sector, making it more attractive to younger people and providing forums for them to learn.”