From education to employment

What you need to know about a career in logistics, the UK’s fastest growing sector

Emma O’Toole, HR Director for the UK, Ireland, and Nordics, UPS

The UK logistics industry employs around 1.25 million people across the UK. Together with the transport sector, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts it will become the country’s fastest growing industry, with an ever-increasing number of jobs on offer.

Despite this, many people aren’t aware of the range of opportunities that the logistics industry presents. Areas like IT, engineering, and sales are hungry for talent from entry-level positions all the way through to senior management.  

Moreover, while logistics has been a traditionally male-dominated sector (in 2020, less than one in four people in the workforce were women) the landscape is changing. The industry is taking steps to boost the number of women through initiatives like the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Women in Logistics Forum. It’s just one example of broad-based momentum within the sector to attract and retain a more diverse talent pool.

To take another example, apprenticeships can attract people from a broader set of social backgrounds, including people who may not otherwise consider a career in logistics.

These programmes help people develop the practical skills and knowledge needed for a rewarding career. This year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), which took place in February, focused on ‘Skills for Life’, highlighting the important role apprenticeships play in supporting employees with upskilling and giving them the tools they need to succeed in their careers. 

According to the Department of Education’s 2021 Apprenticeships Evaluation, 94% of people who completed apprenticeships said the main skills they gained were related to their current or desired area of work, while 92% said their new-found skills could be used across a range of jobs. In addition to learning new skills, many apprentices also reaped financial benefits – with two in three people saying they had received a pay rise since completing their apprenticeship.

What apprenticeships are available?

A common misconception is that apprenticeship opportunities are only available to those at the start of their careers. However, they can help employees at all levels get access to on-the-job learning and to move up the career ladder, including into senior management positions. Apprenticeships range from Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE-level) through to Levels 6 and 7 (equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree), while other apprenticeships may enable you to receive additional qualifications, like a diploma.

At UPS, we offer employees apprenticeship programmes across a host of disciplines and levels, such as the UPS Management Degree, Express Sortation Level 2, and the Team Leading Level 3 apprenticeship programmes. These are vital to UPS’s commitment to helping employees cultivate new skills, as well as supporting our ‘promote from within’ policy.

The Team Leading Level 3 programme, for example, seeks to develop the next generation of leaders within UPS. The scheme focuses on helping apprentices hone their communications, project management, operational planning, and financial awareness skills.

Similarly, the Improvement Technician Level 2 programme, gives participants the skills to problem solve, project manage, and implement processes that deliver real and identifiable savings for their teams. The scheme is being piloted at UPS’s Stanford-le-Hope site and across our engineering departments in the UK, with plans to roll it out to other sites and departments in UPS.

What’s next?

At UPS, whilst apprenticeships are available across many areas of our business, we’re eager to expand both the range and availability of our schemes. We are also developing new apprenticeship programmes to recruit entry-level employees, as well as expanding eligibility for our existing offering.

In fact, across the whole industry, the potential for growth in apprenticeships is huge. Opportunities across a range of front and back-office functions have yet to be harnessed, and we are working hard to develop and implement new opportunities across 2023. Unlocking this rich potential will help the industry broaden its appeal and nurture the next generation of logistics professionals.

By Emma O’Toole, HR Director for the UK, Ireland, and Nordics, UPS

Related Articles