The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a £1 million scheme to help the haulage sector recruit new talent.
The 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 that the new programme 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.
In the UK, estimates suggest a shortfall of more than 50,000 qualified drivers, with the number of unfilled vacancies increasing by 50 each day.
Age is a major factor, with a quarter of the workforce due to retire in the next 10 years, thanks to the average UK driver age being in the 50s.
However, the cost of acquiring a HGV licence – some £3,000 – remains a major barrier for young people entering the profession, and poor parking facilities do nothing to improve their perception of the industry.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.”
Founded by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and Microlise, Road to Logistics is a not-for-profit organisation open to all hauliers that will help them find new logistics professionals by offering support and training to those that struggling to find permanent employment.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Road to Logistics provides a framework for candidates to gain their entitlement to drive a HGV and fully support and mentor their transition into a career in logistics.
“It is 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.”
Following a successful trial with HM Prison Sudbury, the scheme aims to train up to 300 drivers in the first year as part of a pilot.
The first-of-its-kind plan for the industry will see serving prisoners linked with potential employers, undertake crucial training and gain qualifications, including taking their driving test.
They will have a guaranteed job on release, helping them turn their back on crime and transform their lives.
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.
The announcement was made as Whistl announced it was looking to recruit 50 HGV drivers in Bedford.
Whistl has launched a recruitment campaign for 50 HGV drivers to join the company’s expanding transport team. The full-time vacancies are in their newly opened Bedford Super Depot.
Nick Wells, CEO of Whistl, said: “We are looking for drivers to join our expanding Whistl transport team. We are great place to work as we look after our people.
“We pay well, have excellent benefits and are passionate about having a great working environment. As a people business our drivers are the face of the company to our customers – that’s why we value them.”