National Apprenticeship Week takes place 3rd–9th February this year, so it’s a great time to start exploring your options. In this article, Craig Powell from supply chain software specialists Balloon One shares his insight into the benefits of pursuing a career in warehousing and logistics.
If you’re looking for a career where you can really shine, a job in warehousing and logistics is a great option to consider. Not only can you pick up a lot of transferrable skills in roles within this sector, but there’s a lot of demand for young people as there is a skills shortage, which is predicted to get even worse over the next five years. This means there’s all sorts of positions available, and plenty of opportunities to rise through the ranks quicker than in some other industries.
Below, I’ll take you through why an apprenticeship in logistics and warehousing should be at the top of your list.
You’ll learn lots of new transferrable skills
Warehousing is a very important part of the supply chain. It involves storing goods and stock control, but also the transportation and flow of goods. Running a good warehouse means ensuring the quality, cost, and efficiency of its processes meet industry standards, so warehouse managers have to constantly look for opportunities to improve. That means warehouses are fast paced environments, and you’ll learn to be adaptable and develop good problem-solving skills.
Some other key skills you may pick up on your apprenticeship may include:
- Health and safety
- Teamwork and communication
- Inventory management
- Spatial awareness and timekeeping
- Operating specialist machinery
- Handling hazardous materials
Not only will these skills prepare you for a career in warehousing and logistics, but they are also transferrable skills that can help you excel on other career paths.
The skills shortage means there are plenty of positions available
There are many factors contributing towards the UK's skills shortage in warehousing and logistics, one of which is the issue of an ageing workforce. This means that the majority of current workers in senior warehousing roles are approaching retirement age, and there aren’t enough experienced workers in the younger generations to take their place. In fact, one of the most important positions in the industry — project manager — is proving difficult to fill for a lot of companies due to the lack of experience.
This issue is being addressed with apprenticeships, as mentors can coach their apprentices and make sure they have the necessary skills to go on to perform in senior positions. That means there are plenty of apprenticeships for you to choose from to get started in this industry. It also means that there are lots of career progression opportunities available for young people who want to move up through the ranks in logistics.
There is also a skills shortage because there have been such rapid advancements in warehouse management software and other technologies, such as robotics. That means the logistics industry needs software engineers and people with an interest in technology to keep everything running smoothly. So, you can consider a career in warehousing even if you’re more interested in IT.
There are lots of different career paths you can take
When it comes to specific roles within warehousing and logistics, there are lots of options to suit all kinds of skill sets. Planning, administration, operations, and warehouse management all require different kinds of people with different strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not sure which you’d be best suited to, don’t worry. Look for an apprenticeship that will give you a chance to work in all areas so you can experience each one.
Plus, your apprenticeship can also be a gateway into plenty of other industries, so you don’t necessarily have to stay in warehousing and climb the career ladder — some people prefer more lateral methods of promotion.
By beginning your career in warehousing and logistics, you can open up career paths all along the supply chain. For example, you could consider moving to the production and manufacturing sector, or further down the chain to sourcing and purchasing. Your knowledge of logistics and the skills you pick up on your apprenticeship will be transferrable in these areas, and you’ll be able to offer invaluable insights that people who haven’t worked in warehousing can’t offer.
You don’t need any previous experience
Apprenticeships are usually provided through a college and they combine learning on the job with classroom training. You just need a few GCSEs to apply, and most courses take one academic year to complete.
However, to get an apprenticeship in warehousing, you’ll interview for it. Whether this is your first interview, or you’ve interviewed before, it’s important you go into it fully prepared and know what to expect.
As it’s an entry level role, you won’t be expected to have any experience in warehousing. What you’ll be expected to do instead is highlight your strengths and weaknesses and then demonstrate an understanding of the role by suggesting how your skills will be useful during your training.
The skills you need to demonstrate include soft skills like teamworking, communication, problem solving, and responding well to criticism. Many warehouse operatives also have backgrounds in customer service or business, so you could consider getting a Saturday job or temping before you start the application process.
However, the most important quality to get across is enthusiasm. If you demonstrate eagerness and a willingness to learn, you’ll find lots of places willing to take you on as an apprentice.
If you’re in the process of choosing your career, an apprenticeship in warehousing and logistics is a great option to consider. The industry is looking for young people with modern skill sets and interests, so there are plenty of opportunities available.