UTLC ERA unveiled the new digital Transportation and Logistics Career Center Platform
The development of soft skills among transportation students is necessary for the development of the New Silk Road transportation system. This opinion was expressed by the participants in the teleconference “The Future of the Silk Road: a common educational space from China to Europe”.
March 18 at 12:00 p.m., UTLC ERA and the Russian News Agency TASS held the first teleconference between European and Asian countries, students and employers — “The Future of the Silk Road: a Common Education Space from China to Europe”.
The development of the New Silk Road is accompanied by large-scale investment and integration of processes at the infrastructure, technological, cultural and human resource levels. At the event, representatives of major international logistics companies, university representatives and students shared their views and experiences to determine how to improve the effectiveness of training specialists to work in the international transport and logistics industry.
"Maintaining international dialogue, building friendly relations, and caring about our future together are natural processes. The exchange of experience and joint development helps all of us to develop our countries, to make them even more successful. In the international logistics industry, it is near impossible to operate without any sort of dialogue. Much has already been done, but there are still more issues to be solved in order to fully realize the potential of the railway industry and create a common transport space from China to Europe,” comments Alexei Grom, General Director of UTLC ERA.
Universities are incorporating new areas of study into their programs to train in-demand specialists in the transportation and logistics industry. “Our university has been developing innovative educational programs with a focus on strengthening soft skills for over 2 years. The university is applying new approaches to training in these competencies, using elements of gamification and case solving in teamwork. In addition, since the first year, our students are immersed in project activities, where in practice they solve real transport and management cases, together with leading transport companies,” says Pavel Egorov, head of the Russian University of Transport (RUT).
Tamila Mikulich, Director of Human Resources at Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, also considers communication skills essential. In addition, she notes the important ability to act and find solutions in situations of uncertainty. Mikulich notes: “There are a sufficient number of experienced experts with extensive experience, knowledge and technical engineering education skills in the Kazakhstan market. From the point of view of HR, we believe that these same employees need to further develop their soft skills. And most importantly, to build a vision of the railroads as a commercial organization, and an understanding of the need for payback, profitability, efficiency, and productivity.”
“In addition to engineering skills, you need to know languages, be able to communicate, build strong communications between industry professionals, and have cultural understandings,”
Hirut Grossberger, Coordinator of International Projects, University of Applied Sciences, St. Pölten, Austria, spoke on developing international communication skills within educational programs: “Our university has international labs with students from different countries; courses like intercultural presentation, experience sharing, marketing and customer focus. We also occasionally organize ‘international weeks’, where we invite instructors from different countries. All of this gives students the opportunity to gain international experience in the railroad field.”
Vladimir Goldenberg, Coordinator of International Programs at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), echoes her position. According to him, the future specialist in the transport industry must be able to combine knowledge in the field of applied sciences and social competence.
In turn, a representative of Russian Railways Margarita Sotskaya added that the development of the transport system should focus on exchange programs, rather than on the unification of the educational process itself.
“We’ve launched a large scale educational program that involves participants in hackathons, internships. We actively invited students from Russian universities to this project, and now we face the task of involving students from international universities in this work,” Sotskaya pointed out. Margarita also noted that an important skill for young professionals is cross-functionality. Professions with new competencies are emerging: drone operators, builders of smart railroads, architects of intelligent control systems. “We focus on young professionals who can navigate different areas of expertise, especially in new competencies not previously associated with railroads.”
Students were also able to share their opinions on employment in the transport and logistics industry. Among the criteria for choosing a “dream job,” they noted the possible prospects for growth in the organization, the level of pay, the organization’s external and internal policies, social responsibility, and environmental friendliness.
During the teleconference participants were also introduced to the new project of the “United Transport and Logistics Company - Eurasian Railway Alliance” (UTLC ERA). It is the digital platform of the transportation and logistics career center. It will be a platform for professional communication in the industry at the international level and will facilitate the process of exchanges and internships for employers, students and graduates from Europe, Asia and the CIS.
"A common virtual space and access to a single database of specialists and companies should ensure a high level of professional competition, and joint programs of universities and employers - training of young specialists both in terms of theoretical knowledge and acquisition of practical skills for further work in the field of transcontinental transportation," comments Alexei Grom.
The portal works as follows: students register for free and create a personal page. On it they post information about their achievements and merits, fill in as much relevant information as they can, upload their photos, diplomas and certificates. After this step, the student can search for employers of interest, who also have their own pages, subscribe to them to always be aware of what’s going on.
Students and employers from Europe and the CIS, as well as from China, can register on the platform. According to Pavel Egorov, Deputy Director of International Relations and Head of Center, Russian University of Transport (RUT), compared to other platforms, it allows an HR manager not only to see the resume of a student, but also to see how active their activities and rating are.
“The manager can see what achievements the student has, how the person builds communication with the outside world, and more. This way the idea of a potential employee becomes the most complete,” he said.
The New Silk Road
The New Silk Road refers to the concept of a new pan-Eurasian transport system promoted by China in cooperation with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and other countries to move cargo and passengers overland from China to Europe.
The main advantage of the route is the speed of transportation. Trains on this world’s longest freight rail route from China to Germany travel the entire distance in 13 days, twice as fast as the sea route through the Suez Canal. At present, the number of China-Europe railway freight trains has exceeded 12,000, with an average annual growth rate of 108%. Trade between China and its Belt & Road Initiative (B&R) partners increased from $1.04 trillion to $1.34 trillion from 2013 to 2019.
The B&R initiative involves not only economic but also cultural ties. Today about 65 percent of all foreign students in the PRC come from countries that are members of the initiative.
JSC "United Transport and Logistics Company - Eurasian Railway Alliance" (JSC UTLC ERA) is a joint project of the Belarusian, Russian and Kazakh railroads to organize a continuous high-tech service for freight traffic in the communication China-Europe-China in regular container trains. UTLC ERA defines training based on unified approaches throughout Eurasia as one of the strategic objectives for the development of the industry.