Moving Experiences

By Ruari McCallion

October 2023

Careers in warehousing and logistics

Employment opportunities in warehouse management and logistics have never been so varied or so open. Throw technology developments into the pot and you have a recipe for challenging careers, Ruari McCallion has learned.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the USA, employment under the heading of “material moving occupations” was projected to grow by six per cent more than the average for all occupations over the period from 2019 to 2029. Drivers include the expansion of e-commerce and the wider need for more warehouse and distribution centres. The Covid pandemic has upset those calculations, along with many others, but not necessarily in a negative way. Amazon, for example, has more than doubled in size since 2018; its growth rate actually increased during the pandemic. There is now, famously, a shortage of truck drivers across Europe.


As operations become more complex, the need for specialised skills in warehouse operations and logistics is growing, leading to higher wages and expanded career opportunities. Job descriptions now include expectations of high-school diplomas (GCSEs in the UK) at the very least. In a competitive labour market, employers who offer attractive training and career development opportunities are more likely to attract higher calibre recruits and to retain them.

Taking the UK as an example, several courses are offered here by higher education (ages 16-19) colleges, certified by City & Guilds. Forklift Truck Operations, for instance, covers loading and unloading of goods in a warehousing and storage environment and the transfer and positioning of loads for driving and manoeuvring in compliance with health and safety requirements.

Since Brexit, UK qualifications are not automatically recognised across the EU, and vice-versa. One certifying authority that does offer international accreditation is the Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM). It has partner organisations in India, South East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Southern Europe. Its courses include a Level 3 Diploma in Introduction to Warehousing Management. (This is of the same level as a UK A-Level, NVQ or BTEC Level 3, but studied at home.) Another awarding organisation, Pearson, offers work-based qualifications, including BTEC and BTEC International. Career logistics professionals will need even higher qualifications (see boxout).

Ongoing development

The forklift truck (FLT) is the indispensable workhorse of warehouse operations. Operating companies can look to their FLT suppliers to help with ongoing training, skills improvement and familiarity courses, for new entrants or when the company has acquired new trucks.

Erik Stein​​​​

“As a manufacturer, we sell trucks to a dealer,” says Erik Stein, Team Lead, Technical Service Training, for Cat® Lift Trucks. “We have something of the order of 9,000 dealer-based service technicians working on our trucks. We support the dealers through operator training and ‘train the trainer’ programmes.” Erik’s training objective is to ensure competence in managing and maintaining Cat® lift trucks, in terms of their mechanical, electrical and other systems.

“As the technicians are already skilled and qualified, our courses are short – a few days or a week,” says Erik. What has changed is the age spread. “There are a lot of electronics and complex hydraulic systems involved, which was not the case 20 or 30 years ago, so older technicians need training as much as younger ones.”

New opportunities

The growth of technology, and greater demands on warehouse and logistics operations, are opening up a wealth of career opportunities across the board, according to Liz Taylor-Cook, Group HR Manager with international logistics specialist Priority Freight. It operates in the UK, Germany, Spain, Poland and Bulgaria.


“Technology is opening up new routes into logistics careers such as software development, system design and robotics. It is being developed at such a pace that we need an increasing number of people trained in its use.” Priority Freight is launching an apprenticeship scheme later in 2023, to attract new talent straight from school or college.

“Apprentices can bring a fresh perspective and don’t join the company with preconceived ideas about what logistics is or how it has been done in other companies,” she explains. Liz stresses that new entrants have to accept complexity in the industry. “Graduate or novice, we will always take on a candidate that shows potential; success is down to the individual and their willingness to adapt and become a part of the team.” Many of the company’s general and operations managers started in junior roles.

“Some of our team leaders began their careers in logistics admin and moved through other logistics roles or even changed departments; for example, moving from Logistics to Customs,” she continues.

Priority Freight has also been making a concerted effort to attract women into what was, traditionally, a male-dominated industry. “Globally, there is a shortage of skilled workers in the logistics industry, and we are constantly evolving the workforce at our nine European offices. Priority Freight has an almost even headcount split between women and men, comprising individuals from various cultures and backgrounds, all working together.”

It’s important not to overlook the role of continuous improvement programmes, too. They can help warehouses to constantly evolve and rise to the challenges of an ever-changing industry. As with much else, it’s a case of adapt or die.

Qualifications and qualities required or preferred for a logistics professional:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Logistics or Business
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office programmes and cargo management software
  • Knowledge of laws, regulations and ISO requirements as they apply to logistics
  • Strong analytical, communication, customer service, and organisational skills
  • Leadership skills to oversee multiple departments and supply chain employees
  • Certified Logistics Associate (CLA), Certified Master Logistician (CML) and Security 5 Certification