HGV driver courses set up to help meet critical shortages and support people into better paid jobs
The Combined Authority is funding training for more local HGV drivers to help tackle critical shortages affecting people and businesses.
The Combined Authority is funding the training through its devolved control of the Adult Education Budget for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Under the Adult Education programme, Peterborough College will provide a route into driver training. And a new independent training provider, System Group, has also been commissioned to train more local drivers.
System Group will work with local employers through a specially set up Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP), to identify suitable candidates and train them to get their HGV licence. The SWAP will offer pre-employment training, work experience placements and a guaranteed job interview, helping to fill much needed roles in the transport and logistics sector.
The aim is to train an initial 45 HGV drivers via both Peterborough College and System Group, and, if successful, there is potential to build further long-term capacity. The courses are free* and trainees must be aged over 19 and live in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Funding the providers is another example of the Combined Authority’s ability to react quickly to respond to local skills needs. The training will support local employers and the economy while also helping people into better paid jobs and careers by raising levels of skills.
The shortage of drivers has come into sharp focus with fuel and other supply chain issues leading to a lack of available goods across a range of sectors, including food.
With the average age of HGV drivers being 55, much older than the national average, and only two per cent under the age of 25, many drivers are coming up to retirement while not enough young drivers are coming through to replace them. Too few people are considering a career as an HGV driver, because of a lack of understanding of the industry and perceptions about working hours, pay, and conditions.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “The HGV driver shortages are a sharp reminder of the importance of skills. This is obviously a national issue, but it also is a local one, and we have moved quickly to see what we can do.
“We’re doing our bit by training up more drivers locally, supporting both local employers who desperately need new staff, and helping people into good jobs and careers.
“This training is about good outcomes, so it also includes work experience and a guaranteed job interview.
“It’s a great example of the benefit of local control of skills – we are flexible, we know our region, and we have good relationships with local training providers, colleges and employers to ensure that our funding makes the biggest difference possible.
“Our Adult Education Budget has been refocused on giving people the skills they need to improve their lives, while also supporting employers to fill vacancies. We have refocussed some of our budget into areas which have the lowest levels of skills – especially Peterborough and Fenland – to help people and support communities.”
Alison Fox executive director, business development, at Peterborough College said: “Recognising the national driver shortage and the employment opportunities locally, Peterborough College (part of Inspire Education Group) is responding to support local people to upskill and retrain. Working with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Road Haulage Association, the College has developed a programme to engage, train and support individuals who would like to work in the haulage industry and achieve their HGV licence.
“This training will be fully funded and is available to residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who are over 19 with a full driving licence. Initially, there are 20 places available but it is anticipated that this opportunity will be extended.”
Claire Lee, commercial director for System Group, said: “We are seeing a skills gap in the logistics sector, as demand has increased due to more people choosing to shop online and the driver shortages we are facing. Our bespoke programmes have been developed to directly support the impact of the national driver shortage and build a sustainable pipeline of tomorrow’s drivers.
“System Group are delighted to be working in partnership with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority to train and upskill residents to gain jobs in the sector by enrolling local people onto our Driver Pathway that includes licence acquisition. We are looking to help jobseekers start a new career as a key worker and support the UK economy.”
The Combined Authority, through its Growth Works With Skills programme, is also contacting local employers to see what support can be offered to meet the need for HGV drivers. Growth Works with Skills also shows people routes into HGV driving and obtaining a licence. The platform also has all vacancies listed.
The Combined Authority initiatives sit alongside work the Government is doing nationally to tackle driver shortages. A lack of drivers nationally is reflected locally, with about 500 registered vacancies for HGV drivers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.