Degree apprenticeship puts women on the path to logistics management roles 

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.  

Chloe Duggan at work

However, the number of women on the supply chain management (professional practice) BSc degree apprenticeship, at Aston University in Birmingham, 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. 

Encouraging more women into fields that are seen 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. 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 than driving lorries! It is a profession women can excel in. In fact, in our company, we’ve employed our first female road logistics director. 

Impact of Brexit and Covid has shown the importance of functions 

“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.”  
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.” 

Future senior leaders are leading the way for supply chain roles 

Richard Atkinson CBE, a teaching fellow in engineering systems and 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.”