If you’ve been following the employment news over the past few months you will know that the jobs market has taken quite a hit this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as we revealed in the post Jobs outlook for warehouse careers, there is a continuing demand for Warehouse Operatives. Warehouse apprenticeships are a good option for anyone considering starting out or wanting to further their warehouse career.
Would you consider an apprenticeship?
Not everyone thinks of apprenticeships as a way of furthering their education but modern apprenticeships are recognised across a range of industries as a way to gain experience and a qualification. We asked a focus group of 18 to 21 year olds with different career aspirations if they had ever considered doing an apprenticeship in their chosen field. Some said they hadn’t as they preferred to do full-time study and have the college or university experience. Others had looked into doing an apprenticeship as they liked the idea of getting practical experience as well as learning and getting paid.
What do apprenticeships involve?
Apprenticeships are positions within a business where you work alongside the other staff and are provided with on-the-job training as well as some classroom study. The approved study programmes are provided by a recognised Training Provider either in-house or through day release to a college or university and will result in achieving a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships can take anywhere from 12 months to 4 years, depending on the type and level.
You can find out more about apprenticeships and the different levels in our Why do an apprenticeship? blog.
What are the pros of apprenticeships compared to other training or study opportunities?
Different people learn in different ways. For some, like in our focus group, academic study may be preferable. However, other people find they learn better through practical training. This is where apprenticeships can really be of benefit. Not only do you gain hands-on experience, learning from you co-workers and supervisors, but your study time is factored into your work schedule rather than in addition to. For many people the idea that they don’t have to put their career on hold whilst gaining a professional qualification is very appealing as is the fact that you can be getting paid at the same time.
How can apprenticeships benefit your future career?
Many apprenticeships can lead to a permanent role within the same company, but the skills you learn, the experience you gain and the qualification you receive can be used wherever your next career step takes you. This was confirmed by the group we consulted; apprenticeships led to good jobs that paid well and they specifically stated that the amount of experience gained would help them in future jobs.
Considering a warehouse apprenticeships whatever level you are currently at will put you in a good position to pursue your career in warehousing and logistics further in the future.
What kind of warehouse apprenticeships can you do?
Many businesses offer either warehouse apprenticeships programmes or logistics apprenticeships programmes. For those starting out in their warehouse career, these can lead to a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to 5 GCSE passes) in Warehouse Operations. For those looking to move on into Team Leader or Team Manager roles, a Level 3 apprenticeship (equivalent to 2 A level passes) or higher would be needed.
Some businesses may even offer apprenticeships up to a Level 6 or 7 qualification (equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree). Eligibility for higher level apprenticeships will depend on your current skills, qualifications and experience.
Warehouse apprenticeships will involve some classroom based training which, in larger companies, may sometimes be onsite. Alternatively you may have a day or half-day release to go to a local college or training centre.
Warehouse apprenticeships also include a significant amount of on-the-job training and assessments as well as health and safety training. You can expect to work in several key areas of the warehouse business so that you learn and gain experience in a wide range of processes, learning skills that can be transferred to future Warehouse Operative or Warehouse Management roles. Learn more in our previous post about how warehouse apprenticeships can develop your warehouse career.
How can you find apprenticeships?
The gov.uk website is a really good starting point in your quest to find warehouse apprenticeships. This is a great tool for finding government apprenticeships in the warehouse industry across England, and will help give you an idea of what is available in your area, or further afield if you’re happy to relocate.
The ‘find an apprenticeship’ service on gov.uk provides an overview about what the government apprenticeships involve, details about the employer and training provider and information such as the requirements, hours, pay and future prospects.
You can apply for government apprenticeships direct from the gov.uk website by creating an account where you can manage your applications and set up alerts when new apprenticeships are listed.
If you are based in Scotland then you will need to search apprenticeships.scot to find available warehouse apprenticeships in your area. In Wales you can find government apprenticeships through Careers Wales and in Northern Ireland the nidirect government services is the place to start.
If you are already in a Warehouse Operative job role you can approach your employer and ask about their training opportunities. You may find they have a suitable apprenticeship or training programme you can apply for.
Another option is to find warehouse apprenticeships direct with an employer. Businesses of all sizes may offer government apprenticeships, so if there is a specific company that you are interested in working with then it is worth checking out their website to find out what apprenticeship programmes they may have. One such company is Co-op. Their Level 3 Logistics Team Leader apprenticeship could put you on the path for a position in Warehouse Management as well as other management roles within the supply chain.
Many apprenticeships are available to start throughout the year. However, higher level apprenticeships tend to start in September to correlate with the start of the academic year.
What other training options are there for Warehouse Operatives?
A lot of companies have their own in-house training programmes, some of which can lead to specific technical qualifications but all will provide employees with valuable transferable skills and knowledge for both the warehouse environment and any future career moves.
This Autumn we are also seeing the implementation of the new government Plan for Jobs. The scheme aims to support the UK’s economic recovery to help people gain skills and find jobs. Two key provisions of the plan will offer new training opportunities for the 16-24 year old age group.
The government’s Kickstart scheme aims to provide funding to employers to create 6-month work placements for those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment. No previous experience in your chosen sector is required to get a placement in the scheme and participation means you will gain skills and experience while getting paid the National Minimum Wage.
The UKWA (United Kingdom Warehousing Association) has welcomed the announcement of the scheme. They see it not only as a kickstart for young people but also for the warehouse industry. Warehousing has received a heightened profile due to COVID-19 and is now being more recognised as an essential business. With Brexit seeing immigrant workers leaving and creating more job openings in the industry, the Kickstart scheme is a prime opportunity for warehouse businesses to get involved and really show young people what it is all about.
Peter Ward, the CEO of UKWA, said that the scheme will enable the warehousing and logistics industry to be showcased as a ‘fast-paced, IT driven environment with clear career paths, and to recruit the young employees needed as rapid online retail growth brings increased demand for our services’.1
It is expected that the first placements will begin this November and it is hoped that the scheme will continue until at least the end of 2021. To find out more about how you can apply for a Kickstart job you need to approach your Jobcentre work coach.
The government is also providing an additional £111 million this year towards traineeships for the 16-24 age group. A traineeship is a training programme not a job, and as such you will not be paid. However, as part of the training programme you will receive classroom-based lessons as well as up to 90 hours of unpaid work experience covering a period from 6 weeks up to 6 months.
A traineeship work placement is a valuable working experience which will provide you with skills and knowledge to support you in the next step of your career. There may even be the opportunity within the company to then move on into an apprenticeship or job at the end of the programme.
Read Future of work - finding work and gaining the skills you need for an in depth look at the Plan for Jobs initiative.
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1. United Kingdom Warehousing Association. 2020. UKWA offers support for government’s Kickstart Scheme. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ukwa.org.uk/market-intel/ukwa-offers-support-for-governments-kickstart-scheme/. [Accessed October 2020].