The present state of logistics requires the updating of the knowledge, expertise, competencies and skills of logistics managers to keep pace with the development of new concepts, solutions and technologies. It’s also becoming evident that reliable logistics operations and seamless processes have to be based on common standards.
Of course, technical, data and communication standards are critical, but it is now obvious that these must be supported by good communication by logisticians, the people who practically manage supply chains. They need good links with their global business partners.
To put it simply, logisticians have to speak the same language – they have to understand supply chain issues in the same way.
To facilitate this common understanding, standards for logistics competencies must be implemented and respected. Such standards have been developed by numerous organisations, often supporting particular sectors or functions but the most universal standards have been delivered by the European Logistics Association.
ELA incorporates more than 30 national logistics associations from across Europe. Apart from its many other activities taken for the benefit of logisticians, the ELA has had a longstanding interest in European standards.
The framework of certification is the European Certification Board for Logistics (ECBL) system. Standards are reviewed and updated on a regular basis to keep up with new concepts and technologies. Initially, certification activities were conducted inside the ELA as part of its committee-based structure but eventually the ELA established the ECBL as independent, although closely linked to it.
ECBL’s mission is ‘to develop, support implementation, control and promote a certification system for individual logisticians based on standards of competence set up by the ELA, making it known, recognised and used in Europe and world wide’.
The certification system has been implemented in a number of European and non-European countries. Today, 19 national certification bodies are conducting certification on their territories and the number of awarded certificates is approaching 3,000.
Competences are checked on three levels – operational (candidates who successfully complete the certification process are awarded the European Junior Logistician EJLog title), senior (European Senior Logistician – ESLog) and strategic (European Master Logistician – EMLog). It should be noted that there are no prior requirements regarding the background or formal education of candidates.
In close cooperation with the ELA, ECBL has just started a project leading towards the implementation of a new policy which should make the system more centralised in terms of assessment and quality assurance, maintaining at the same time its most characteristic feature – its competitive advantage over other certification Standards are reviewed and updated on a regular basis to keep up with new concepts and technologiessystems – the possibility of taking exams in national languages.
A basic tool of the new policy will be the ECBL Question Bank where various testing tools, contributed by the participating national certification bodies, will be gathered together. This will allow the ECBL to prepare uniform exam sets which in turn will ensure that the competencies of candidates sitting for such exams are comparable. This will help to raise the credibility of the system, enhance recognition of the ELA standards and boost the value of certificates.
The new policy will also be a great help to new certification bodies and should encourage new national associations to join the system.
Yiannis Konetas is president of the ECBL and Stanislaw Krzyzaniak is chairman of the ECBL board and the ECBL scientific committee.