How do I become a logistics clerk?

The training company ITG ships products via land, air and sea.

You order your new trainers on the internet – and a few days later they arrive. To make this happen, freight forwarding and logistics clerks are pulling the strings in the background.

Whether it's an apple in the supermarket or a motorcycle being sent halfway around the world, freight forwarding and logistics clerks make sure that the goods arrive where they are needed.

That's all in a day's work for Luca Guerel. He is training with ITG Internationale Spedition und Logistik GmbH close to Munich airport. To start with, the 20-year old tried training as an office manager, but he found it too monotonous. He then opted for the logistics clerk pathway, as it would open a lot of doors for him later on. "Online orders, for example, are always increasing. Ultimately, everybody is concerned with how goods are transported and which means of transportation is used."

His profession is not very easy to explain. "We have freight forwarding and contract logistics, which have a lot of overlaps," explains the trainee. "But freight forwarding", he adds, "is essentially about carrying out and scheduling the transport. In this case we are service providers and the customer is very clearly king."

Advice for the customer: correctly packaged and cleared

This can be described roughly as follows: The customer sends an order and would like to have a good transported from A to B. "We then advise the customer on the order." For example, on how the goods are correctly packed and cleared, and via which route they are best shipped.

"Contract logistics is all about storage," says the 20-year-old, explaining his second area of training. He explains the tasks using an example. If a consumer, let's say, orders two pairs of trousers from a sports equipment manufacturer, the order might be forwarded directly to the logistic services provider. "They check the item number, the size and the stock, they collect the items together and package them in the proper manner." He also explains what happens in terms of customs.

After his experience as an office manager in particular, Guerel appreciates that freight forwarding can be very unpredictable. In his view, anybody interested in the occupation should be flexible and able to react quickly. "You certainly need to be able to keep a cool head, that is very, very important."

Open communication – not only in German

Being open, and the ability to approach others is also important. "Contact with drivers, for example, means you'll come across a lot of different people and cultures," says Mona Springer, who is training with Meyer Logistik in Friedrichsdorf near Frankfurt. The trainees enjoy it most when they are at the centre of the action.

“Foreign language skills and being geographically mobile are also helpful in the training,” explains Frank Huster, General Manager at the German Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics. ITG, for example, has international customers, including in China and India. "When they telephone, you have to understand them and be able to make yourself understood," says Guerel.

Legally, there are no requirements for training as a freight forwarding and logistics services clerk. However, as the latest statistics show, over half of trainees (58 percent) have the higher education entrance qualification, explains Anke Kock from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). "This is because it certainly is a demanding training occupation."

Efforts are being made to attract the next generation into logistics

For remuneration in companies bound by collective bargaining agreements, the Federal Employment Agency specifies guideline values between €480 and €975 in the first year of training and €640 and €1065 in the third year of training.

Sector experts assess the future prospects as positive, and young talent is being sought. "Young people have excellent career opportunities at all levels," explains Frauke Heistermann, Member of the Executive Board at the German Logistics Association (BVL). She is currently the spokesperson for the initiative "Die Wirschaftsmacher" (this translates into English as "the business creators") which the logistics sector is using to attract new trainees.

Armin Brähler, a trainer at Meyer Logistik, adds: "People will always eat and drink." This means that logistics companies such as Meyer Will always have to ensure that food can get from A to B.

Source: (website of the newspaper NWZ), revised by iMOVE, April 2020