Call for apprenticeship levy as Government unlocks funds to train HGV drivers
The government has announced its support for the not-for-profit 'Road to Logistics' scheme, a brainchild of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and fleet telematics and management systems outfit Microlise. The pair have been working together for three years to put together a plan to fill the tens of thousands of vacancies which exist for commercial drivers. Now official sanction comes in the form of a £1 million investment from the Department for Transport.
The nationwide Road to Logistics programme aims to support those who may find it difficult to get permanent jobs, such as veterans, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed, by putting them on a path to a career in transport. The DfT says the new funds will enable logistics companies to run essential skills training for these groups, including within the prison system, and help the industry to solve a nationwide shortage of drivers.
Following a successful trial with HM Prison Sudbury and other prisons across the UK, Road to Logistics aims to train up to 300 drivers in the first year. The scheme will link potential drivers with employers, mentor them and put them through the necessary training including taking their HGV driving test. RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, commented:
“This is the culmination of three years of collaboration and hard work between the RHA and Microlise. The future of the UK road transport industry depends on its drivers and right now we’re facing a shortage of approximately 60,000. Road to Logistics will go some way to resolving this while at the same time supporting ex-offenders, the long-term unemployed and individuals from other disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s fantastic that Government is supporting an initiative that will help to resolve the shortage of drivers whilst providing a helping hand for those that need it the most.”
The government says the new programme will join a range of existing government interventions in place to remove the barriers faced by people who may find it difficult to secure long-term employment, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps saying:
"Our dynamic road transport sector moves more than 1.4 billion tonnes of goods across the country every year, so we need to make sure it is fit for the future. Not only will this new programme help make this industry even stronger, but it will help pave the way for those who may be struggling to secure a permanent job and turn their lives around.”
The scarcity of trained professional drivers is worsening as more retire from the industry and it is essential that the image of the job changes in the public’s perception to what it actually is today, someone properly qualified with a range of skills to cope with both the physical and administrative demands which face HGV drivers. Microlise executive director, Bob Harbey said:
“We firmly believe that Road to Logistics will play a central role in addressing the sector’s skills shortfall and are extremely pleased that Government is providing the support that is so desperately needed. The shortage of HGV drivers is a massive threat to the economy. Without them, the wheels of the UK road transport industry will, quite literally, grind to a halt. The next stage is to focus on unlocking the Apprenticeship Levy for our sector.”