Retailer B&M has created 100 jobs on the back of a newly-launched Widnes-based driver training scheme.
The news comes in the wake of the first group of trainees to pass the Driving Ambition programme, who are now taking-up permanent commercial vehicle driving jobs for B&M, delivering to stores across the north west.
The Driving Ambition move is aimed at tackling UK-wide demand for qualified drivers – logistics and transport operators are currently struggling to recruit and it is estimated that an extra 150,000 trained drivers will be needed by 2020.
The one-stop-shop training and testing centre in Widnes is also the only one of its type in the region to employ its own DVSA approved examiners.
This investment helps to cut test waiting times to three days, ensuring that upwards of 20 people are able to pass through the training centre’s gates each week to become qualified drivers.
Mike Benson, distribution director at B&M, said his company was committed to supporting local employment and spearheading the introduction of newly-qualified drivers into the retail transport sector.
He added: “Together with our partner Driving Ambition, we have created a tailored induction and training programme to ensure the new drivers get the best start and gain the skills they need to be workplace ready.
“We have already successfully inducted 35 academy drivers into our business and are all going through our training programme with further intakes planned this month.”
Adrian Daulby, Driving Ambition’s director of operations, said the investment had been made to put people in the driving seat for work in the transport and logistics sector.
He anticipates that the programme will lead to commercial vehicle driving jobs being secured for newly qualified trainees at other logistics operators over the coming months as the training initiative continues to expand across the region and the wider UK.
Driving Ambition trainees benefit from modern driver training equipment and facilities to fast-track them through the LGV qualification.
This includes classrooms, three outside manoeuvring areas, a new fleet of training vehicles as well as a team of experienced instructors to equip candidates with the skills, experience and certifications for a commercial vehicle driving career.
The centre is DVSA approved, ensuring that people can be trained and tested as an integrated package.