With the shortage of qualified HGV drivers now reaching critical levels across the UK, representatives of the logistics sector have urged the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) to provide the apprenticeship standards that logistics businesses need to start training the next generation of drivers.
A recent meeting of the Trailblazer Apprenticeship group has agreed to continue the provision of a route for Cat C+E licence acquisition and to press ahead for two new apprenticeships to provide separate routes for Cat C and Cat C+E. FTA and RHA, the two leading membership associations representing logistics drivers, are now calling on IFATE to recognise the distinctly different occupations of urban and trunker driving and the specific skills required for each job. The Trailblazer group will now set about developing the standards necessary for qualifications in this area, a move welcomed by both David Wells, Chief Executive of FTA and Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of RHA:
“There is no more time to be wasted if suitable standards are to be developed and new entrants to the industry are to start their journeys to fulfilling careers in the freight and logistics sector,” they said in a joint statement. “After three years of negotiations and discussions with IFATE and government, it is encouraging that a workable, practical solution for the development of two new Apprenticeship standards for logistics is now in sight and we are urging all employers involved to prioritise the creation of these standards ready for the summer.”
Current industry estimates have identified an industry shortage of more than 59,000 HGV drivers nationwide, and with EU workers currently representing 13% of the overall UK logistics workforce, Mr Burnett and Mr Wells are adamant that changes to the way logistics firms can train new employees need to be made to the system now:
“Logistics businesses have been paying into the apprenticeship levy for the past three years without suitable standards to draw down and use the funds to improve and expand their workforces. It is a positive step that the sector will work together to push forwards the standards necessary for new apprenticeships, and will give businesses concerned about futureproofing their workforce reassurance that assistance is finally being made available. Our industry is at the heart of keeping the UK’s commerce and industry flowing, and the government owes it to our members to ensure they have access to the best workforce possible to keep vehicles moving.”