Telford College is running a new series of training programmes to help tackle a serious shortage of HGV drivers.
The lack of qualified drivers is causing serious disruption to the UK’s logistics and delivery chains, and employers are desperate to fast-track new staff into the industry.
Telford College has worked closely with employers and driver trainers to create a ‘Sector-based Work Academy’ specifically designed to provide jobseekers with the skills required for driving goods vehicles.
The next sessions kick off in Telford on September 13 and 27, with the potential of further dates to follow, subject to demand. All the details can be found at www.telfordcollege.ac.uk/sbwa/.
The free courses are available to anyone over the age of 19 who is actively seeking employment, and in receipt of either universal credit or jobseekers’ allowance.
Applicants will also need to hold a valid UK Category B manual car driving licence, hold no more than six penalty points on their licence, and be referred by a job centre advisor.
Widespread supply chain issues caused by the current HGV driver shortage are now hitting a range of sectors, including food, drink and medicines.
The haulage industry says it has suffered from a post-Brexit exodus of drivers, an ageing and retiring workforce, and Covid-related disruption which have combined to bring some supply chains close to breaking point.
Graham Reynolds, Telford College’s business programme manager, said: “There is a huge shortage of drivers in the industry at the moment, and it is having a knock-on effect for supplies to supermarkets, restaurants and other retailers.
“Because the need for drivers is so high, it’s a great time for licenced drivers to join the industry – with many organisations offering competitive rates and incentives.”
Telford College is currently working with a number of top employers in the area, including Muller, Culina and Blakemore, which are committed to taking on newly qualified drivers.
Graham added: “The industry has suggested a shortfall of somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 drivers – the shortage has grown over the past few years and been worsened following Covid, and Brexit.
“The greatest barrier for individuals looking to get into the industry is gaining their Category C licence – sometimes referred to as a Class Two licence – which enables them to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes.
“This can be costly, and for individuals who are unemployed they can find themselves instantly priced out of training and licencing.
“Our Sector-Based Work Academy programme enables jobseekers to undertake a supported programme of study to gain qualifications, improve their employability skills and importantly support them with the costs of licence acquisition.
“There are no direct costs to the individual for their driver theory practice, initial theory tests, practical training or Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).”
Telford College is also working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority to provide an HGV pilot scheme across Wolverhampton and Birmingham to help bring even more new drivers into the sector.