The Transport and Logistics sector is one of the most important in the UK and facing 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 and Vice-Chair of Women in Logistics, explained her story of starting in the industry and the benefits: “I had finished my university degree, was a single parent and needed to work quite rigid hours, so I applied for every single job in the Manchester Evening News and the one I was offered was a position as a secretary for the BRS (British Road Services).”

Clare Bottle

Despite Claire’s wonderfully 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. 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.”

Explaining just why she loved it so 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.”

Clare then looked at training as a way of progressing her career, becoming the first single parent to do a Graduate Training Programme in Logistics. It has all led to the senior position she holds today at the UKWA as well as her role with Women in Logistics, where she promotes diversity within the sector.

On whether there are any barriers preventing more women from working in logistics, Clare suggested that: “Even I, with the social factors in my favour and the support I had around me, found it incredibly difficult to work shifts with a small child, and not every woman has those advantages. Family-friendly policies and flexibility at work absolutely help women, but also help men and other people with caring responsibilities.”

Clare then directly mentioned the impact that upskilling had on her career: “It helps to overcome imposter syndrome, and whilst that is something that anybody can suffer with, sometimes its believed women suffer more than men. 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.”

Clare’s experiences show the value of upskilling and the GMCA Skills for Growth programme is a fantastic opportunity for those individuals, of any gender, in Greater Manchester to progress in the industry, with fully funded courses specifically tailored to the challenges Clare mentions, such as applying technology in logistics operations and managing your own professional development.

More information about the fully funded skills training courses that are available can be found here.

*Skills for Growth is funded through the European Social Fund and aims to plug the skills gaps in priority sectors across Greater Manchester as outlined in the Combined Authority’s Local Industrial Strategy.