Talented and enthusiastic hauliers are becoming harder to find and it appears that fewer trainees are moving up through the ranks. It’s hoped that changes to the Large Goods Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship could change this by encouraging more youngsters to consider a career in haulage.
The Large Goods Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship
The apprenticeship is a twelve month scheme that, at present, only includes the Cat C licence; a licence that only permits the driving of rigid vehicles. Haulage companies are being encouraged to support a move to include the Cat C and E licence in the apprenticeship. But why?
Some say that without the inclusion of both of these categories the scheme doesn’t address the needs of trainees – so is therefore not doing what it is supposed to. Not only that, they say, the limitations of the apprenticeship scheme are leading to a shortage in new HGV drivers.
Both the Fleet Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) have been fighting hard for the apprenticeship scheme to be enhanced. They have approached the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) for funding to be increased to £7000 per apprentice (up from £5000).
These demands have been met with some scepticism, and the IFATE has requested that the industry produce evidence to support the need for the inclusion of Cat C and E in the scheme.
The industry Trailblazer Group has been called upon to measure the support for the changes in the existing scheme, and a survey has now been initiated. Hauliers are being encouraged to access and complete the survey via the FTA or RHA. The aim is to highlight the need for the Cat C and E licence to be included in the apprenticeship and the more haulage companies that are in agreement with this, the less the IFATE will be able to argue with the demand.
The FTA Head of Skills, Sally Gilson, believes that the 31% decrease in the number of drivers signing up to apprenticeships, including the Large Goods Vehicle apprenticeship, is due to it not being ‘fit for purpose’. She thinks that enhancing it would increase the number of haulage companies signing up new recruits, which can only be a positive thing for an industry that is ever expanding.
The final numbers will tell the real story and help decide the IFATE’s decision. David Coombes, a member of the IFATE transport and logistics panel, says the whole sector must approve of the change before it is supported and funded. If results show that the change is needed then the necessary revisions will certainly be implemented.
It is a waiting game for haulage companies and the young people wanting to start a career in the industry, but very soon the results will be analysed and a decision finally made. Should the changes be made, the knock on effect of having more trainees will enhance the industry so talented people can do the important jobs that keep freight moving nationally and internationally.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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