Logistics & Transport

Logistics and Transport

Transport and logistics is a growing sector that plays a major role in the UK and global economy.  Freight logistics companies either manage their own distribution systems (own account operators), or manage it on behalf of another as third party logistics (3PL) or hauliers.

The UK passenger transport industry is huge and comprises a small number of large employers together with many SMEs, sole traders and self-employed operators. There are approximately 126,000 people working in aviation, 159,000 in rail and 10,000 in transport planning – for further details about people working in this sector see Go Skills: The Sector Skills Council for Passenger Transport.

Opportunities within logistics, distribution, shipping and marine policy can be found in many different organisations, including the coal, oil, steel, gas and electricity companies, passenger and freight transport companies, road, rail, air, sea and inland highways, as well as breweries and supermarkets.

Graduates from any degree discipline are welcome though some organisations will look for those offering business management, transport planning, logistics, mathematics, economics and geography related degrees.

Getting in

The Department for Transport (DfT) and the two sector skills councils, Go Skills:  The Sector Skills Council for Passenger Transport and Skills for Logistics, both contain essential background reading about the industry. Offers information about careers, qualifications and the current issues, as well as a range of other sources.

Many organisations offer graduate training schemes across all the areas within this sector.  Graduate directories are useful sources of employer contact details. Early application is advisable.  Graduate training schemes are not the only entry point into the industry, there are other challenging jobs that you might pursue in a wide variety of contexts. You might apply for jobs that do not require a degree but are attractive to graduates, for example as air or ground crew. It is also possible to start in a clerical or customer services role and work your way up, via training and experience, into a managerial position.

It is also worth looking at the jobs section of local authorities, as a number of roles within local councils are relevant to this sector. Departments worth looking at include highways and transportation, economic development and regeneration.

Career opportunities within the logistics and transport industry can also be found in organisations listed below, and again many of them will offer graduate training schemes with details on relevant websites:

  • National and local government – e.g. Department for Transport (via Civil Service Fast Stream), Highways Agency, local authorities (including Transport for London) and the armed forces
  • Transport Consultancies
  • Network Rail
  • Seaports and airports
  • Passenger transport companies e.g. National Express/Stagecoach/airlines
  • Freight transport companies (road, rail, air, sea and inland highways)
  • Supply chain logistics (distribution or supply chain management) at manufacturing and retail companies (eg breweries/supermarkets or coal/oil/steel/energy companies)
  • Third-party logistics (3PL), freight forwarders and shipping companies eg Exel/DHL, TNT and Maersk.
  • Car fleet operators and courier services
  • Travel/tourist companies

The following are examples of key jobs that exist in the transport and logistics industry:

  • Air cabin crew
  • Air traffic controller
  • Airline pilot
  • Consulting civil engineer
  • Freight forwarder
  • Logistics and distribution manager
  • Passenger transport manager
  • Transport planner

The main professional body for this diverse sector is The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK but many other organisations and examining bodies are involved.

Work Experience

Work experience is vital. On every application form you come across, employers will ask about your work experience, so they expect you to have some. Questions about your achievements and skills will require you to focus on work-based competencies, and employers will want to see evidence of this.  Remember, any work experience is of value, whether related to logistics and transport or not.

While a technical degree in engineering or supply chain management is essential for some roles, the industry is highly multidisciplinary and requires people from many other backgrounds. Subjects such as economics, marketing, IT business management, geography, environmental studies, mathematics, languages and human resources may be particularly relevant, but there are roles for applicants with a wide range of transferable skills. Employers are looking for good written and verbal communicators and team players with strong analytical and problem solving skills who are able to multitask. You should also be able to take on responsibility early. Solutions do not happen overnight so you need to appreciate that projects you have worked on may continue to impact on society for years. The ability to see the bigger picture and the broader impact of your decision making is essential.

Local events

Many organisations give presentations and attend careers fairs throughout the year – check our events page or Careers Account’s events calendar in and notice boards in your Department for details. The Autumn Careers Fair,  STEM Fairs (autumn and spring events) and the Business, Finance & Banking Fair are of particular interest for this sector.

Related links

Getting started

 Professional bodies

Employers and vacancy sources

  • Our Jobs Board – search vacancies posted by employers or set up job alerts via the Jobs Board or Career Account apps. Also tweeted via @CardiffCareers

Aberconway Library is an excellent source of guides and directories to assist you in your research – use their list of suggested Logistics and Transport resources