Logistics field bucks the recession
It's unusual to find an industry crying out for workers in today's tight economic climate.
And it's even more remarkable to find a course where students are regularly head-hunted by employers before they finish their qualification.
But it's happening all the time at Manukau Institute of Technology - and in the little known world of logistics.
"It's one of those really, really frustrating and bizarre situations in a recession," Helen Murray, senior lecturer at MIT's school of shipping, freight and logistics, says.
"We've got jobs waiting. We get employers ringing us on a weekly basis looking for people. It's reaching crisis level."
The school offers a one-year diploma in shipping and freight, which prepares graduates for mid-level logistics roles.
Former student Amit Rathod was offered three jobs on the day he completed his final exam.
He's now based in Auckland's CBD and is employed by CMA CGM, one of the world's largest container shipping groups.
Amit was employed at a supermarket for seven years before he went to MIT. Now he says a world of opportunities has opened up for him and working for a large, international company means the scope for career progression is huge.
"There are so many possibilities. I love my job. Everyday is different and I'm always busy," Amit says.
Barry Cardno is also someone who knows about life's possibilities. He has been confined to a wheelchair since a crash in a top-dressing plane 17 years ago but hasn't let that stop him pursuing his goals.
After some time doing seasonal work in Wanaka, he wanted a change in pace.
A friend suggested logistics so he relocated to Auckland to study at MIT and one year later was offered his dream job.
"I work at Aeromarsters. We offer aviation spares support, ground equipment support and maintenance management. I still love flying. I have a Cessna at Ardmore airfield and fly every weekend. My job lets me be surrounded by what I love everyday.
"There are many opportunities in life, you have just got to look for them."
So, with so many opportunities available in shipping, freight and logistics, why are more people not studying for a career in the industry?
Ms Murray says it's a career that can be hard to define and it doesn't immediately spring to mind for many people.
"But the demand is there. We've had people three or four months into the course offered jobs," Ms Murray says.
Part of the problem is that logistics is a varied career path and therefore hard to market. It is basically managing the flow of resources, from a point of origin to a destination. It can involve integrating information, transport, inventory, warehousing, material handling, packaging, and security. It involves road, rail, air and shipping.
Logistics lecturer Malcolm Brown says the job is a fascinating one once students complete the qualification.
"You're dealing with people all over the world. You might start the morning talking to New York or Chicago, then by lunchtime China and Singapore as the time zones change.
"You are dealing with customers, truck drivers, customs officials, MAF, you might be down at the wharf.
"There's never a dull moment."