Logistics & Transport
A career in transport management and logistics presents many options to graduates because of the size and scope of this sector. Logistics concerns the effective movement of goods and is critical to the economy of the UK. The transport infrastructure supports the movement of goods and people; it is a significant contributor to the social and economic well being of our society. The career pathways are many and include roles in planning, modelling, operational management, policy, analysis and supply chain management.
AGCAS, the professional body for higher education careers advisory services, has produced Industry Insight for Transport and Logistics which provides an overview of what it is like to work in this area.
|Air traffic controller|
|Logistics and distribution manager|
|Passenger transport manager|
Typically, formal internships are aimed primarily at students in their penultimate year; closing dates can be as early as December and January! The internships last 8-12 weeks; they are usually salaried and involve structured, project based work. Opportunities are advertised via our vacancy service, which is available through the Careers Centre website, but also through the main graduate careers websites such as Prospects, Target Jobs and Milkround. It is feasible to undertake work experience with SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) through the ‘Step’ programme.
Researching relevant employers and work experience opportunities
Transport Planning and Management
The role of a transport planner is incredibly varied, requiring a broad skill set and an interest in transport related problem solving. Forecasting traffic flow as a result of a new development, analysing the impact on passengers of altered train and bus routes and designing safe routes for cyclists are all examples of transport planning. Generating strategies and policies to address issues associated with travel, such as environmental impact and increased congestion, is a key element of the work. The role has a strong analytical aspect to it in terms of gathering, managing and interpreting transport related data. It also requires excellent problem solving skills in terms of developing appropriate solutions to transport related issues. An interest in transport and planning, but also politics and law, and ability to communicate effectively with different people is important. Transport Management encompasses elements of planning but the role is much broader and more customer service focused.
According to the Transport Planning Society there are currently not sufficient qualified transport planners to meet demand. Opportunities exist across a range of employers including central and local government but also transport companies (bus, rail, shipping, aviation etc), freight companies, engineering consultancies and large corporate organisations for which transport is a key element. When considering work experience opportunities it is important to explore the diversity of employers in this field as placements may be available in less obvious organisations.
Opportunities with a more generic management or planning role exist via large public sector organisations like the Highways Agency and Transport for London but also the transport executives, overseeing public transport in large cities. There are six Passenger Transport Executives (PTE) in the UK including Nexus, Metro and Centro. The Department of Transport is the main government body for transport and a useful contact for sources of vacancies, particularly if you are interested in contributing to policy making. The Passenger Transport Authorities (PTA) have a key role to play in determining transport strategies at local level. Large passenger transport companies, such as Arriva, National Express and Network Rail, provide graduate training schemes. It is important to research the nature of the schemes offered as they may have a broader management focus rather than transport planning. Closing dates tend to vary but some organisations will close their recruitment as early as November or December in your final year of study. Consultancies are becoming more significant employers of transport planners; this includes very specialist organizations such as Steer Davies Gleave, Mayer Brown and MVA, but also companies, such as Aecom, Amec, Arup and Atkins, with a much wider remit incorporating transport services.
If possible try to obtain relevant work experience. Details of summer placements with a range of private and public sector organisations can be found through the Transport Planning Society website. This website has been established in response to the skills shortage in this area and is an excellent source of permanent vacancies in addition to summer placements. Large organisations are likely to offer structured internship opportunities but work experience and shadowing can be sought through effective networking and speculative application.
It is very helpful to gain relevant work experience as a means of demonstrating your appreciation of the industry and the inherent challenges of a career in logistics. Some of the larger companies offer summer work placements, as well as graduate training programmes, specifically in the field of logistics and supply chain; examples include retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Argos, logistics companies like Wincanton and manufacturers such as Heinz and Rolls Royce. Refer to the Inside Careers guide to careers in logistics and transport management for a comprehensive list of vacancies and career information. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport contains a useful careers section in respect of work experience. In addition to internships, consider operational roles in warehouses during vacations; this is an excellent means of developing your understanding of the sector.
Logistics management concerns all sizes of public and private sector organisations and consequently potential opportunities for work experience exist outside of the formal internship schemes. Companies operating in the retail and manufacturing sectors are particularly important to target. Consultancies (The Logistics Business, Bisham, Total Logistics), logistics service providers (e.g. Gist, Exel, DHL) and freight/transport companies are further sources of experience and employment. Other options that may allow you to develop transferable skills with less competition include warehousing, storage, retail or administration.
Graduate training schemes are available in respect of transport management and logistics. Organizations usually have closing dates between November and January of your final year. Refer to the Inside Careers guide to careers in logistics and transport management for a list graduate schemes. Opportunities are also advertised via the Chartered Institute of Logistics. The Transport Planning Society advertises graduate vacancies and provides details of relevant employers. The directories provided by Prospects and Target Jobs (available in the Careers Centre and online) detail graduate employers within transport and logistics. It is essential to research graduate schemes before applying as entry requirements do vary.
Examples of graduate schemes (transport planning and management)
Examples of graduate schemes (logistics)
In addition to graduate schemes, it is not uncommon for organizations to recruit graduates on an individual basis into trainee roles. Non-graduate level employment (e.g. technician or assistant planner roles) with a relevant employer is another means of entering the profession. The resources below are appropriate in respect of both graduate and non-graduate employment opportunities. Refer to the Recruitment Employment Confederation website for details of appropriate recruitment consultancies.
Useful job vacancy websites
There are many general and specific job search resources in respect of transport and logistics; below are a number of key resources with which to begin your job search:
|Jobs in Transport||
|Transport Planning Society||
|Careers in Logistics||
If you are interested in a career in transport planning a postgraduate qualification is useful, particularly if you want to move into a consultancy or research role that requires specific knowledge of fields such as rail, shipping or aviation. A postgraduate qualification in town planning is also very useful, especially if you have studied modules related to transport. The Transport Planning Society provides information on transport related Masters Degrees. Some courses may require work experience and a relevant undergraduate degree (e.g. geography, economics, mathematics, engineering); always check with admissions tutors before applying. Professional bodies aligned to particular areas of transport such as shipping, freight and air will often also provide information on accredited courses.
A postgraduate qualification is not a requirement but may enhance your employability. Information on qualifications and study options linked to transport are available on the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) website.
There are a number of postgraduate study options available which may improve your chances of employment, particularly when considering companies that do not offer a graduate scheme. Research companies carefully as not all employers require a postgraduate qualification. It is also very important that a postgraduate course is accredited by the CILT. Cranfield University is one example of an institution offering very specific programmes in the field of logistics and supply chain management.