A new lorry driver training scheme run by a council has been overwhelmed by applications from aspiring HGV drivers.
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council says it created the HGV Employment and Training Academy in a bid to deal with a chronic shortage of lorry drivers.
And last month, the council in Northern Ireland advertised fully funded training places for 45 trainees to gain their HGV licence.
However, more than 400 applications were made.
Pass and obtain their HGV driving licence
Part of the scheme sees those who pass and obtain their HGV driving licence being guaranteed an interview at the end of their training with a local employer.
The council says they are 85 vacancies for HGV drivers in their area.
The SDLP’s Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon welcomed the Academy’s popularity and called for more learner drivers to return from April.
On Facebook, he wrote: “Given the huge interest and, indeed, the need for drivers across the haulage industry I have asked that council consider a second scheme early in the new financial year.”
£2,000 for a driver to complete their HGV training
The council says that it can cost more than £2,000 for a driver to complete their HGV training so the option of a fully funded training place was very attractive to many people.
The council points out that their training scheme has also gained interest from 50 local employers.
News of demand from applicants wanting to undertake HGV training has now seen the Welsh government unveiling fully funded courses to HGV companies and drivers.
As part of their Lifetime Skills guarantee, the courses are available with Driver Academy Group which is a consortium of Manpower, HGVC and Logistics UK.
Undertaking a refresher course to build confidence
For current HGV drivers, they have the option of upgrading their licence, undertaking a refresher course to build confidence and the opportunity to train for carrying hazardous goods with the ADR and Petroleum Passport.
The Driver Academy Group says it has received more than 6,200 applications for the Skills Bootcamp it runs for HGV drivers and is encouraging more people to apply – particularly from underrepresented groups including ethnic minorities, women and younger drivers.
In addition, the Carlisle-based SP Training has revealed that it has now enrolled its 500th apprentice to undertake an LGV driving apprenticeship.
Deal with the UK’s lorry driver shortage
The response from driver training organisations to deal with the UK’s lorry driver shortage has also seen a driver training specialist in Wrexham and Shropshire reveal that it has achieved 1,000 driving test passes in the last nine months.
That’s one the best success rates in the UK and Dulson Training says it has invested in staff, equipment and new lorries to deal with a surge in demand.
And the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) announced this week that it is using part of its adult education budget to help pay for training providers to deliver HGV driver courses.
The money will also help pay for training new HGV and PSV drivers in a bid to tackle the lorry and bus driver shortage in the county.