With much of the enormous product outflow from the South China factory belt passing through, Hong Kong is recognised as a world-class logistics hub. This is a natural follow-on to its long-held position as the globe's busiest container port and international cargo handling centre.
"I am optimistic about the future of Hong Kong's logistics industry, specially in the sector of air freight forwarding," says Henry Lau, programme leader of the Master of Science in Industrial Logistics Systems programme (MSc in ILS) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). "It is true that we face intense competition from Shanghai, Shenzhen and Singapore, but with the robust economic growth on the mainland, the sector is expanding fast so Hong Kong will be endowed with a larger market."
PolyU is offering the MSc in ILS programme to cater for the growing demand for talents and enhanced professionalism in the logistics industry, which involves distribution, supply chain management and information technology. Dr Lau explains, "Hong Kong is one of the key transportation and logistics hubs in the Asia-Pacific region. We have an advanced infrastructure and considerable R&D funded by the government, aiming to explore logistics skill and knowledge. It is forecast that the number of jobs in the industry will increase."
The MSc in ILS programme assembles theories and practice. It provides students with the latest knowledge and skills for diagnosing problems and formulating strategic solutions that use information in the design, planning and organising of industrial logistics systems. "While IT is not the ultimate aim of the programme, it is an essential tool that supports and improves supply-chain activities. For example, the RFID (radio frequency identity) technology helps track and locate shipments, which brings lots of benefits including protection against counterfeits and prevention of out-of-stock conditions," explains Dr Lau.
The programme is offered part-time and so is suitable for working executives wishing to obtain additional expertise and accreditation in the field. While most participants work in the logistics or the manufacturing sector, some others have only little association with industrial logistics, for example, sales and marketing. However different their backgrounds, the participants look to more promising careers and opportunities after acquiring new knowledge through the programme.
Dr Lau says, "To succeed as logistics practitioners in today's competitive environment, one needs to be a multi-skilled generalist rather than just a technically-oriented specialist." The core elements of the programme, which are incorporated into five compulsory subjects, are therefore classified into strategic, tactical and operational levels.
Participants can learn in a conducive environment in which problem-solving skills are the key learning outcome. Besides lectures, laboratories, presentations, real case studies and libraries are provided to assist learning. Software such as SimLogistics™, SimEnterprise™ and Logimizer™, developed by PolyU to assist the logistics industry in devising profit-maximising solutions, are also in place to facilitate effective learning.
"The programme is fully in line with the actual business environment," says Dr Lau. "We revise the curriculum yearly and invite industry guest speakers, who are all successful industry practitioners to share their knowledge and real-life experience with our students. We also have many industrial companies serving as our reference sites of best manufacturing practices."
The programme also meets the educational requirements for chartered membership of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK and HK) and professional membership of the Hong Kong Logistics Association.