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Making career in logistics an aspiration for the many

Industry views | 27 November 2018

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By Jane Davies, Group HR Director, Wincanton

In the lead up to Brexit, the issue of the workforce comes into sharp focus.  According to the Freight Transport Association, 2.54 million people currently work in the UK’s logistics sector nationwide. EU workers currently account for 13% of HGV drivers and 26% of warehouse operatives.  

The ‘free movement of workers’ principle, however, is likely to be hardest hit by exiting the EU and in almost any deal which is brokered. As a result, there is a great deal of uncertainty around the impact of Brexit on this labour pool.   This presents a challenge across the industry.

A lack of understanding of the breadth of the industry, the roles within each organisation and the development opportunities available, mean that the world of transport and logistics can be overlooked as a career to aspire to.  If, as an industry, we are to change this, to make logistics a market where the most talented candidates want to work, then we need to work together to inspire change.  And this needs to start at the grass roots.

We have to do more to show young people what they can become with role models from across the industry. We need to be getting out into schools and colleges, speaking to students about the opportunities across transport & logistics.  Most will have little or no experience of the industry so we need to show them what they can do and ultimately, what they can be.

At Wincanton, for example, we believe in the value of engaging aspiring professionals from an early stage; we are involved with projects such as ‘Think Logistics’, where our teams spend time working with students offering mentoring for those who are considering a career in the industry; we have a placement programme for graduates through NOVUS (of which we are a founding member); we run our own comprehensive graduate programme across different areas of the business; we welcome school groups into the warehouse to support ‘readiness to work’ activities and we have a presence at career fairs.  We also invest heavily in our apprenticeship programmes where we offer fantastic training opportunities, all the way through from Level One to Level 7, which can result in Degree in Management or MSc Supply Chain.

We need to demonstrate that logistics is far more than ‘lorries and warehouses’. Our drivers and warehouse operatives are the bedrock of our business, but our operations can only function with talent in automation, IT, HR, marketing, business analysis, bid writing, the list goes on.  It is an industry at the cutting edge of technology; digitisation, robotics and the Internet of Things are increasingly common place.  The apps and devices we are familiar with in our personal lives are now common place in business environments – and in logistics more than most.

In the experience of so many of us in this industry, logistics and transport is a satisfying and rewarding industry to work in.  A place where, despite perceptions, there is a chance to show initiative, entrepreneurialism and creativity – to the benefit of our teams and ultimately our customers. 

For further information on career opportunities at Wincanton, visit www.wincanton.co.uk/careers