The Managing Director of North East-based Moody Logistics is calling on haulage firms to help solve a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers by creating more apprenticeships.
Caroline Moody, speaking during the Road Haulage Association’s ‘Love the Lorry Week’, (16-22 September) said: “The current shortfall in professional drivers poses a serious threat to the effectiveness of the transport industry as well as the future UK economy.
“Creating more driver apprentices is a practical and cost-effective way in which businesses such as our own can encourage a new generation to get behind the wheel.
“I want to highlight the benefits of driver apprenticeships as part of ‘Love the Lorry’ week and the huge career opportunities they provide.”
Latest figures estimate the transport sector, which moves 1.4 billion tonnes of goods annually across the UK, is facing a shortfall of more than 60,000 qualified HGV drivers.
The family-run firm in Cramlington, Northumberland, has already successfully put two apprentices through the driver programme operated by Tyneside Training Services (TTS). A third is due to sit an HGV test while the company is currently in the process of selecting its fourth driver apprentice.
Caroline, who herself qualified as an HGV driver last year, added: “We are committed to providing people with the opportunities, skills and qualifications necessary to tackle what is a serious challenge to the industry.”
The company does require its driver apprentices to hold a clean driving licence for a minimum of two years.
Melanie Thompson-Glen, Business Development Manager at Gateshead College, which operates TTS, believes such apprenticeships are a productive way of delivering professional and highly skilled drivers.
Larger companies can fund the apprenticeship through the Apprenticeship Levy, with smaller firms required to make a five per cent contribution, the remainder being paid by government.
The average apprenticeship lasts 15 months with some companies choosing to recruit from within other areas of its workforce or from the over 25 age group.
She added: “The scheme allows haulage companies to provide an apprentice with much greater insight into the logistics industry as they work within the business whilst being trained in the core driving skills.
“Many perceptions surrounding HGV drivers are outdated. This is a modern technologically advanced industry where highly skilled drivers can be responsible for a lorry worth in excess of £100,000.
“The driver apprenticeship is a great way to attract new talent into the profession – where the average driver’s age is now over 50 – by companies supporting recruits and creating a pathway into a secure and well-paid future.”