Record levels of investment in roads, rail, ports and airports mean that a new generation of skilled workers are needed to help shape the nation's future transport network and infrastructure
What areas of transport and logistics can I work in?
The sector covers a number of areas including freight logistics, supply chain management, passenger transport, vehicle manufacturing and retail, transport planning, and traffic management.
Passenger transport incorporates operations (driver, pilot and air crew), route planning, customer service and safety. This is then split into:
- bus and coach;
- light rail, tram and metro services;
- taxi and private hire;
- water transport.
Logistics/supply chain can be broken down into:
- freight transportation;
- maritime and port operations;
- postal and courier activities;
- warehousing, storage and handling.
Large transport companies also recruit graduates to HR, finance, IT, sales and marketing, communications and procurement positions.
For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in transport and logistics.
Who are the main graduate employers?
This sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the majority of businesses employing fewer than 50 people.
The remaining large firms, with more than 100 employees, are the most likely to take on graduates straight out of university. These include...
Rail, coach, bus, private hire:
- Addison Lee;
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car;
- National Express;
- Network Rail;
- Stagecoach Group;
- Transport for London (TfL);
- Virgin Trains.
Logistics and transportation companies:
- P&O Ferrymasters;
- Stobart Group;
- Heathrow Airport;
- International Airlines Group (which includes Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia);
- Manchester Airports Group (MAG);
- Virgin Atlantic.
- P&O Ferries;
- Peel Ports Group (six UK ports including Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal).
Postal and courier activities:
- Royal Mail Group;
- UK Mail.
Transport planners typically work for consultancies, local government or construction companies.
What's it like working in transport and logistics?
Graduates entering the sector can expect:
- a variety of working environments - for instance, if you're working in air transport as a pilot or cabin crew member, you'll be travelling and spending time in airports and on planes. Managers in transport and logistics work in offices, but they may be located in sea ports, airports or distribution warehouses;
- long working hours - employees often work outside of normal hours including early mornings, evenings and at weekends;
- a wide range of salaries - in management roles, starting salaries can be relatively low but typically rise considerably at senior levels. Train drivers earn on average £47,000 a year, while pilots can earn more than £100,000.
Find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, by viewing specific job profiles.
What are the key issues?
People are making twice as many journeys as they did in 1970 - as highlighted in the Department for Transport's (DfT) January 2016 report Transport infrastructure skills strategy: building sustainable skills, published in collaboration with Crossrail, Transport for London (TfL), Highways England, Network Rail and High Speed Two (HS2). As such, Britain's transport network is struggling to cope.
Therefore, £411billion has been pledged towards 564 road and rail projects and programmes, as the government seeks to modernise the country's transport infrastructure and meet the inevitable challenges head on.
A number of road improvement schemes, including the modernisation of the M4 and M5 motorways in the South West and the A1 in the North East, have since been announced by Highways England. This is part of its record £15billion road investment between 2015 and 2020, with the former project expected to create more than 6,000 jobs.
Other major ongoing and future transport infrastructure projects that will lead to more new jobs include Crossrail and the high speed rail link HS2, while the expansion of Heathrow Airport in London, which has reached the public consultation stage, shows that air transport is not being ignored either. Indeed, the State of the Nation 2013: Passenger Transport and Travel report found that aviation, taxi and private hire, and rail are all seeing rising employment.
Following the boom in online shopping (e-retailing), logistics and supply chain management is also a growth area. Retail giant Amazon has rolled out its own network across the UK, with regional distribution centres set up to process orders and drivers on hand to deliver goods directly to the consumer. Other big-name brands, including Sainsbury's, John Lewis and Aldi, have enlisted the services of specialists iForce to manage their multi-channel retail logistics and handle their supply chain management.
Finally, as the UK maritime sector plays a significant role in the global industry, there's always demand for engineers, surveyors, mechanics, lawyers, ship managers and brokers.
How will the sector's skills shortage be addressed?
Not only has the government promised to invest in the UK's transport infrastructure, in its report the DfT has also sought to answer important questions that have been raised about the sector's ageing workforce and lack of skills in key areas such as design, engineering, construction and project management.
The industry's skills shortages will be partly met through the creation of 30,000 new road and rail apprenticeships by 2020 - even though more than 55,000 workers are actually required. To this end, Highways England is currently looking to train new apprentices and graduates in its Highways Academy to work on projects such as the A14 road upgrade.
With various plans to upskill the existing public sector workforce and provide pathways for new entrants to succeed in a variety of road and rail transport positions, the transport sector is a potentially rewarding career choice for graduates.