Stores assistants work in the stores or stock departments of a wide range of employers. They are responsible for the reception, checking and storage of the products, tools or parts needed for the proper operation of businesses engaged in:
They also work in the stores departments of large organisations, such as hospitals or the armed forces, and in thousands of medium-sized shops and businesses.
Stock controllers may also be responsible for the ordering procedures in a stores department and for ensuring that correct stock levels are maintained. In some cases, they may also have to organise and supervise the despatch and collection of goods.
Typical tasks can vary widely, depending on the employer. However, they may include:
Dealing with incoming stock:
Keeping the storeroom in good order and well stocked:
Dealing with outgoing stock:
The maintenance of correct stock levels is of major importance in modern business. Carrying too much stock at any time not only costs a lot in terms of storage and security, but it also has a detrimental effect on cash flow. Stock shortages may affect production or sales levels.
New computer applications for monitoring stock levels in stores departments are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are being constantly updated with changing technologies.
Stores assistants normally work 37 to 39 hours per week. Some stores assistants work standard hours, Monday to Friday. Others may have to work shifts and weekends. Overtime work is quite common and part-time jobs are available. Store assistants may be required to work longer hours at certain busy times of the year, such as Christmas.
Most storerooms are clean, tidy and well lit. The work may involve accepting deliveries outside in all types of weather, standing up, climbing ladders, lifting heavy goods, operating machinery, such as fork lifts, powered stackers and movers, or being seated to use a computer.
Boots and overalls or uniform are standard. Some jobs may require extra protective clothing, such as goggles and gloves when storing and handling hazardous materials.
Starting salaries for stores assistants are around £12,000 a year. An experienced stock controller could earn more than £20,000 and stores managers can earn up to £25,000.
Stores assistants work for any company or organisation that store and supply products, tools or parts. There are opportunities for stores assistants across a wide range of industries and sectors, including manufacturing, engineering, distribution, motor vehicle, aerospace, the armed forces, retail and electronics.
Work can be temporary, depending on the needs of the employer. For example, in the warehousing industry, vacancies can peak at certain times of the year, such as Christmas. Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, Jobcentre Plus offices, Connexions centres and employment agencies.
No formal academic qualifications are required to work as a stores assistant, although GCSE's in English and maths together with ICT skills would be essential to take advantage of training schemes or an Apprenticeship.
The Diplomas in construction and the built environment, engineering, information technology, as well as manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this type of work.
Some stores assistants are required to have a driving licence and be qualified to drive a fork lift truck.
In stores that use colour coding storage systems, stores assistants need normal colour vision.
Entry is possible through an Apprenticeship in warehousing and storage.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Previous experience in warehousing, packing, engineering, manufacturing or assembly work may be an advantage.
New stores assistants often train on the job, learning skills such as IT use, stock identification, lifting, carrying and loading techniques, and storage requirements.
Short courses away from the workplace may be available, e.g. in health and safety procedures or computer software packages. There may be opportunities to do block or day-release courses, and work towards qualifications such as NVQ in business and administration Levels 1-4. Assistants working in warehousing may be able take the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK)'s Level 2 Introductory Certificate in Logistics and Transport.
Companies must provide training if a stores assistant is required to drive a fork lift truck or use similar equipment.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
A stores assistant should:
Promotion opportunities vary according to the size of the company. Promotion to stores supervisor and then on to stores manager may be possible, especially in larger companies.
There may be opportunities for specialist work in some industries. For example, it may be possible to move into fork lift truck operations. In some companies, stores assistants may be offered the opportunity to train as a driver of a large goods vehicle (LGV).
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK),
Logistics and Transport Centre,
Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740104
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply,
Easton House, Church Street,
Lincolnshire PE9 3NZ
Tel: 01780 756777
SEMTA, 14 Upton Road,
Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923 238441
Skills for Logistics, 14 Warren Yard,
Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360 and 0870 242 7314
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.