Logistics UK has welcomed a new apprenticeship category aimed at HGV drivers to help build and retain the country’s future lorry driver workforce.
The business organisation says that the category enables drivers to drive HGVs and trailers (or C+E, as categorised on their driving licence), as a ‘positive step’.
However, they say the government needs to extend the incentive payment scheme which amounts to £3,000 per candidate beyond the current end of September deadline.
They say this needs to be done to ensure that the potential reach of the HGV apprenticeship scheme can be maximised.
‘Introduction of a new C + E apprenticeship standard’
The organisation’s manager of public policy, Alex Veitch, said: “The introduction of a new C + E apprenticeship standard is welcome news for our sector.
“The apprenticeship model of ‘earning while learning’ adds appeal for new entrants to a logistics career, particularly those who may have lost jobs during the pandemic and is ideal for a practical career like HGV driving.
“But with only six weeks to understand the parameters of the new apprenticeship standard, identify training providers and recruit the new staff to undertake the programme, the opportunities for businesses in our sector to take advantage of the government’s signing-on incentive are very limited.”
He added: “Many businesses in our sector experienced severe financial hardship as a result of the economic shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, and with many organisations still on the road to recovery, there is no spare cash to fund the wage bill of a new employee.
“A financial incentive to sign up an apprentice is vital to cover wages and other costs which the business will incur as they get back on their feet, and we are urging the government to extend the incentive scheme for a further three months, so that apprentices recruited before 1 December 2021 are eligible.”
Logistics businesses can start recruiting
He said that this would ensure that as many logistics businesses as possible can start recruiting and developing their future workforce by using the Apprenticeship scheme.
This would also, he pointed out, help protect the logistics sector against further shortages of drivers and other key workers.
According to Logistics UK’s own figures, the country’s logistics sector has a shortage of around 90,000 HGV drivers currently.
Now, they hope that the new apprenticeship standard will help employers in the industry to recruit the new drivers they need to deliver long-term stability.
‘Dedicated HGV drivers’
Mr Veitch added: “Our sector, powered by dedicated HGV drivers, has kept the UK stocked with all it requires throughout the pandemic.
“But with numerous factors including the loss of European workers driving the skills shortage, now is the time for our industry to attract new employees.
“By extending the incentive deadline, the government could help to bridge the gap in cash flow which many businesses have experienced because of the pandemic, and assist in the futureproofing of our key workforce for the benefit of UK plc.”
The government’s apprenticeship scheme incentive payment is available for every new employee that starts an apprenticeship between April 2021 and the end of September.
If you would like to know more about the new HGV C+E driving Apprenticeship, then visit the government’s website for further education skills and apprenticeships.