The Transport and Logistics industry is an example of an area that has traditionally been male dominated. With the new challenges in the wake of changing customer requirements, new and emerging technologies, and relevant environmental issues. Pursuing a career in the industry can be an exciting and engaging prospect, for an individual of any gender.
Clare Bottle, Chief Executive of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) and Vice-Chair of Women in Logistics, explains her story of starting in the logistics sector and the benefits of upskilling.
Bottle had finished her university degree, was a single parent and needed to work quite rigid hours, so applied for every single job in the Manchester Evening News. She was offered a position as a secretary for British Road Services (BRS).
Despite Bottle’s atypical route into the industry, she quickly found that it was exactly the career for her.
“I think the parallel I would draw with other women that I’ve met since is that whilst I haven’t met anyone with the same story as me, there seems to be a theme that it started as an opportunistic thing but then they loved it,” Bottle said.
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“Within three weeks of starting at the BRS, I knew this industry was where I was going to work for the rest of my life, and I wasn’t wrong.”
The industry appealed to Bottle immediately, she said:“Logistics is a fascinating mix of intellectual challenges and practical reality. And for somebody starting out in the industry now, there is a lot of new, digital innovation that, if anything, only makes it even more appealing and interesting.”
In 2017, only 2% of workers in logistics were female. In the UK, 19% of workers in the Transport and Logistics industry were female. Although the UK is doing better at attracting women into logistics than the global average, there are still many opportunities for women in the Transport and Logistics industry.
Bottle looked at training as a way of progressing her career, becoming the first single parent to do a Graduate Training Programme in Logistics. It led to the senior position she holds today at the UKWA as well as her role with Womenin Logistics, a group which aims to address gender imbalance and improve the lives of women in logistics, where she promotes young people recognising the career opportunities within the sector.
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“It helps to overcome imposter syndrome, and whilst that is something that anybody can suffer with, sometimes it’s believed womensuffer more than men,” Bottle said.
“It’s all very well exhorting women to become more confident, but what we want is the bar to be higher and all the people that make it to be more competent, and that’s where training comes in,” she added.
Having women in leadership positions helps the industry in making changes for female workers. And with the logistics sector continuing to face a major workforce shortage, increasing the numbers of women working in the sector can help to fill those gaps. Logistics UK estimates that there is currently a shortage of 60,000 HGV drivers,* as well as a lack of forklift drivers, workhouse operatives and many other key roles that can offer rewarding careers for women.
“Clare’s experience shows the value of upskilling and what having the correct training courses can do for someone’s career progression,” Jake Croxton, Key Account Manager for Transport and Logistics at Seetec Outsource, said.
“Here at Seetec Outsource we believe that upskilling is important for all people and gives them an opportunity to push themselves further in their chosen careers or even in an entirely new career path.”
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Skills for Growth programme is an opportunity for those individuals, of any gender, in Greater Manchester to progress in the industry, with fully funded courses specifically tailored to the challenges Bottle mentioned, such as applying technology in logistics operations and managing your own professional development.