Logistics is the UK’s most underrated career choice and National Careers Week (3rd to 7th March 2014) is the ideal time to examine this unacknowledged field.
Vice Chair of the networking group Women in Logistics UK, Clare Bottle is spending this week visiting schools, highlighting the benefits of a career in logistics to students – girls in particular. Here are some of her findings about careers in logistics and young people, and some resources if you want to find out more:
In a parliamentary debate last June, MPs acknowledged that careers advice in schools is too often obtained solely from parents and teachers. Consequently, children tend to aim for a limited range of careers which are readily visible to them. The hidden world of logistics is rarely considered by school leavers; and girls are especially likely to close their options too soon. For example, in a recent article in the Telegraph, undergraduate Emma Pearce explained that despite high confidence levels, girls lack female role models who exemplify the relevance of studying subjects like science and maths: “I just couldn't see the career path or why they were relevant to me.”
And a 2012 study of seven-year olds found that most children aspired to one of just twelve popular occupations: teacher, scientist, hairdresser, sports player, fire fighter, police officer, artist, actor/entertainer, animal carer, vet, doctor and builder. Girls’ and boys’ target careers were different, with a tendency to follow gender expectations, which was most marked in the case of hairdressing. Over 9% of girls preferred this career option, compared with just 0.1% of boys. (Only teacher or vet was a more popular career choice for girls.) And this predilection is carried through into the workplace, where women make up 90% of those working in hair and beauty.
But the crushing truth is that in the UK there are fewer than 250,000 jobs in hair and beauty: this industry is simply too small to satisfy the aspirations of 9% of schoolgirls. Yet the colossal 2.3 million jobs in logistics are largely being overlooked. The logistics industry needs to work with schools to get the message to girls that, compared with hair and beauty, there are ten times as many jobs available to them in logistics.
Clare believes that, as a general rule, logistics is an ideal career for people who are good with money, proficient with IT systems, work well in a team and can think logically and laterally to solve problems. For the most ambitious young people, there are opportunities to attain significant management responsibilities from an early stage in your career, managing large teams and controlling sizeable budgets. It is also a very varied field with specialisms such as supply chain planning, freight forwarding administration and warehouse management.
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