Everything – and we do mean everything – that you can see around you right at this moment has at some point been part of the supply chain. It’s the process that moves things from where they’re made to where they need to be, whether that’s construction materials, food, drink, electronics, your Amazon order… anything you can think of. People working in logistics keep the chain connected.
Without the logistics industry the UK would come to a grinding, unhappy halt. There would be no food on the shelves (and no shelves in the first place), nothing in shops and the crops would be going to ruin with no transport to move them from the fields. Logistics makes use of land, sea and air transport to move things from A to B, with a workforce of skilled operatives involved at every stage.
What can I do?
Because there are so many links in the supply chain, there are many opportunities for a career in logistics. For example, you could train to be the driver of a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or a courier van, responsible for getting your cargo to the right place at the right time. This is vital work: not only do you need to be a safe, reliable driver; you need to be able to arrive at the precise moment you’re needed. At supermarkets the delivery window for lorries can last a matter of minutes, so it’s skilled work. Alternatively, you might be based in a warehouse or storage facility and be responsible for picking the items to go onto a delivery vehicle, loading them up – perhaps using forklifts or other specialist equipment – and keeping accurate records.
All of these operations require careful planning and overseeing, so there are many supervisory and management roles all the
way along the supply chain. Some involve working with the delivery teams, while others are focused on the end customer, with roles as diverse as scheduling the deliveries for an entire fleet of lorries to making sure the warehouse team has the right instructions
Types of Apprenticeships
There are many links in the supply chain, with Apprenticeships to match. They include Logistics Operations, Commercial
Moving, International Trade and Logistics, Mail Services and Package Distribution, and Warehouse and Storage.
The skills you’ll need will vary slightly between roles, with different requirements depending on your specialism. Drivers will need training for larger vehicles, for example, which requires good motor skills, concentration and the patience to cover long distances, often at antisocial times.
Some aspects of logistics work can be very physical: those lorries don’t unload themselves, after all, so you could be doing a lot of lifting and carrying, learning how to plan ahead and to use your muscles efficiently and without injury. Some of this is tough, demanding work so you’ll need to be fit and strong, often with a good sense of humour to get you through the longer shifts.
You might also need some highly specialised skills depending on the business you work for. Transporting chemicals, fuel or other hazardous materials is obviously risky, so the people involved need to know the properties of the material they’re moving and how to do it safely. Elsewhere in the chain, roles that involve planning, scheduling or creating timetables will demand ICT, literacy and numeracy skills, as well as a good head for organisation and the ability to solve problems. In fact, for any role in transport and logistics, knowing when – and how – to think outside the box will be a handy skill. Don’t worry though, that’s the kind of thing an Apprenticeship can help you develop.
Levels of Apprenticeship
There are generally three levels of Apprenticeship offered in these areas. The one you choose will depend on your previous experience and qualifications:
Intermediate – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Advanced – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Higher – equivalent to Foundation Degrees
An intermediate Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve the advanced level; a Higher Apprenticeship will then require additional time. If you don’t have the qualifications you need yet, a Traineeship can help fill in the gaps in your learning.
What can we do to help?
CareerMap has a wide range of warehouse, transport, and logistics apprenticeships across the country that can help you find the right next step. If you want to get in touch please email us at [email protected] for more info.