Aston University: Aston University degree apprenticeship helps lead the way for women in logistics and supply chain

An Aston University degree apprenticeship is helping to illustrate that more women are choosing a career in logistics and supply chain.

The logistics sector has historically attracted more men than women. Nearly 1.5 million people work in transport and logistics in the UK, but less than a quarter of these are female, according to a report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2020.

However the number of women on the Supply Chain Management (Professional Practice) BSc Degree Apprenticeship is near to equal men at a 40/60 female/male ratio.

This week (7 to 13 February) marks National Apprenticeships Week – the 15th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships. This year’s theme is ‘build the future’, reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills.

One of the students on the Supply Chain Management (Professional Practice) BSc Degree Apprenticeship is 21-year-old Chloe Duggan, who is a customer service specialist in road logistics for Kuehne+Nagel in Birmingham. Chloe believes that degree apprenticeships like the one she is working towards can encourage more women into fields that are often viewed as male orientated.

Chloe, from Great Barr in Birmingham, did well at school in her A levels and moved away from home to study an undergraduate course. However, she found the degree she had chosen wasn’t for her and secured a job at Kuehne+Nagel while she reapplied for the following year’s university intake.

However, she enjoyed being in the workplace and felt torn about a return to university. When she heard about degree apprenticeships from a friend who was studying for one she approached her employer and asked if they would consider supporting her to enrol for one too. To her delight her manager agreed, and she became the first in her company to study for this type of course.

Chloe said:

“My career route happened by luck and at school I hadn’t considered logistics. Many people don’t realise the role is customer facing which calls for good communication and time management skills. My role is about helping clients rather driving lorries! It is a profession women can excel in. In fact in our company we’ve employed our first female road logistics director.

“I would encourage more women to consider a career in logistics or supply chain. The impacts of Brexit and Covid have illustrated how vital these functions are to the smooth running of everyday life.”

Chloe believes that a degree apprenticeship was the answer to what she was looking for rather the traditional degree route. “I didn’t enjoy living away from home as I didn’t have much money and was concerned about having enough work experience to get a job after graduation. A degree apprenticeship addresses both of those issues and the classes are small which I find more friendly.”

Looking to the future Chloe hopes to progress from customer service specialist to account manager a role with more responsibility such as finance. She added: “Such a move would be impossible without a degree apprenticeship because it teaches management skills and background knowledge to how companies are run which otherwise I wouldn’t have learnt.”

Richard Atkinson CBE, teaching fellow in Engineering Systems & Supply Chain Management at Aston University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said:

“Aston University is the UK’s leading logistics faculty – at the cross section of UK manufacturing and UK supply chains. Logistics has never been so much in the public eye. Future senior leaders like Chloe are leading the way in professionalising the professions for the years ahead.”

“Supply chain roles are fast-moving, action-packed, problem-solving and people-centric. Every day, in every way, logistics professionals like Chloe and all her colleagues are making people’s lives better, keeping the nation moving, and propelling the economy – little could be more important”.

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