Pressures on the freight and logistics industry to deliver goods to increasingly tight timescales are being heightened by shortages of skilled HGV drivers.
In fact, the industry estimates that there could be up to 35,000 vacancies for trained operators across the country.
To start addressing the problem, government funding to train up to 200 HGV drivers is being made available to Freight Transport Association (FTA) members through a new partnership with The Real Apprenticeship Company (TRAC).
Applications for funding will need to be made before the end of March 2017 and trainees enrolled by the middle of April. Learners need to be aged 23 or below and hold a Category B (car) driving licence before starting the course.
A total fund of £1 million has been secured by TRAC and, depending on the training programmes selected by employers, this amount would be sufficient to fund up to 200 drivers through driving licence acquisition training. It is being offered to FTA members and covers the full cost of approved training to include Category C and potentially C+E driving licence acquisition.
This will be the last tranche of Government funding available that does not require a contribution from employers. Following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, the funding rules will change, meaning only the smallest operators will not be liable for a contribution fee.
Sally Gilson, head of skills campaigning at FTA, said: “This is a great opportunity for members to get free training for the drivers they are recruiting now.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this funding to members to help them tackle the persistent shortage of qualified HGV drivers.”
Pierre de Carteret, chief operating officer at TRAC, said: “While there is currently a reduced appetite to commence training apprentices now, there is a very clear economic rationale for doing so. This is most definitely a case of use it or lose it and it’s extremely unlikely Government will provide another funded opportunity like this again.”
Employers interested in taking up this opportunity should email FTA@thereal.company. Funding will be allocated to qualifying employers and learners on a first-come-first-served basis.