Training scheme to tackle logistics skills gap

The FTA is to offer free training for truck drivers, to plug the logistics skills gap

Food and drink manufacturers are to benefit from fully-funded training and apprenticeships from the Freight Transport Association (FTA), to tackle shortages of skilled heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

Government funding to train up to 200 HGV drivers is being made available to 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 mid April. Learners need to be aged 23 or below and hold a Category B (car) driving licence before starting the course.

This will be the last training scheme available that will not need a monetary contribution from employers before the Apprenticeship Levy is introduced in April, said the FTA.

Sally Gilson, head of skills campaigning at the FTA said: “This is a great opportunity for members to get free training for the drivers they are recruiting now. 

‘Persistent shortage’

We are pleased to be able to offer this funding to members to help them tackle the persistent shortage of qualified HGV drivers.

A total fund of £1M has been secured by TRAC, 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 (vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer up to 750kg) and potentially C+E (category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg) driving licence acquisition.

‘Reduced appetite’

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.”

The FTA estimates that there could be up to 35,000 vacancies for trained HGV drivers across the country.

Meanwhile, the Apprenticeship Levy came under fire from Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, at the Business Leaders’ Forum this week (January 24).

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