06 October 2022
After years of uncertainty and driver shortages, there are finally signs that positive change could be on the horizon for the transport industry.
Dwindling driver numbers across the UK have been widely reported and can be attributed to a catalogue of reasons – namely, COVID, Brexit, IR35 and a lack of young people entering the transport sector – however, slowly but surely, there seems to be a glimmer of light appearing at the end of the tunnel.
Instead of rushing to fill immediate vacancies, there is a gradual shift happening across the industry with more and more companies starting to look ahead and develop a long-term strategy that will help them deal with future driver shortages in a more effective manner. We’re pleased to report that LGV apprenticeships are becoming central to this strategy, opening the door to a more diverse array of drivers than before and allowing companies to prepare for a more stable future.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into why your business should consider an LGV apprenticeship and the many benefits it can bring.
Real training and mentoring
An LGV apprenticeship is about more than just acquiring a licence. It equips learners and businesses alike with an enhanced set of skills, knowledge and behaviours that will prove beneficial in the long run, while also giving learners the time and space to practise and develop these skills in a safe and structured environment. Yes, it’s a longer training process than the traditional five-day commercial driver training route that many will be familiar with, but it gives drivers a genuine feel for what life is like on the job – something that simply can’t be captured in a quick five days.
For example, when working with our partners DPD, we pair their apprentices with one of their trained drivers for a period of time so they can learn from their experience and get the support they need to develop their skills. This is practical, on-the-job training that just can’t be replicated elsewhere.
What’s more, we make it possible for companies to customise the programme content to suit them, allowing them to instil their own values and policies while offering practical advice for heavy hauling.
All of this has huge benefits in the long run – improving employee engagement and minimising any new-driver incidents or infringements that may occur.
LGV apprenticeships teach more than driving
With an apprenticeship, drivers gain a wider understanding of the business as a whole and where they fit into it.
For example, through our programme with DPD, learners not only shadow train with drivers to help them get to grips with the vehicles – the size of them, what it’s like to drive them on the road etc. – but they are also shown around the warehouse, so they get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes.
They also learn about company policy and procedures, how to be proactive and find solutions to day-to-day challenges and other non-driving duties. All of this helps them gain a well-balanced set of skills and experience that sets them in good stead for the future.
Future-proof the workforce
As mentioned previously, the UK has been experiencing a real driver shortage in recent years thanks to various factors, such as Brexit, COVID, rising costs and more. Earlier this year, the Road Haulage Association reported a shortage of 100,000 LGV drivers, while the age demographic continues to increase – suggesting that the industry needs to be more effective at recruiting and retaining younger drivers.
In order to plug the gaps caused by experienced drivers leaving the industry and rising costs, businesses have been forced to use agency drivers, which can be an incredibly expensive short-term solution. This also does little in providing relief when planning for the future.
Apprenticeships, on the other hand, offer a more stable long-term strategy. Not only do they help to grow the volume of drivers over a sustained period of time, but they also offer a solution to the demographic trends of the last few years. And for those who are initially put off by the rising costs to gain their licence, employers can use their apprenticeship levy to train new drivers and welcome a more diverse range of people into their business. Diversity and inclusion sit at the heart of many companies’ long-term objectives, and it goes without saying that people from different backgrounds bring new dynamics to a business.
Employers can also look at their current workforce and consider re-skilling non-drivers – perhaps those who work in warehouses, distribution or administration team. Existing colleagues are often easy to engage and bring a high level of loyalty and commitment thanks to their years of service – so they may be ready to adopt the driving skills that employers need for the future.
Whether it’s through external or internal recruitment, apprenticeships allow new ideas to flourish and bring a new level of skill and experience to the business.
Last year, we announced a new apprentice training partnership with international haulage firm Turners. At the time, Turners HR Officer Faye Andreou spoke about the need to future-proof their business.
“As we are seeing across haulage in the UK, we are driven by the fact that we need drivers. It is an ageing industry, with half of current drivers are over 50. That means there is a finite timeline and we need to attract younger drivers to the role.
‘There was a UK-wide shortage of around 60,000 LGV drivers before the pandemic, and what we’ve seen as a result of Brexit, with a real shortage of drivers from EU member states, means this driver deficit has gotten worse.
‘It’s important therefore that we future-proof our business and invest in new talent to introduce them to the role.’
Speaking about the partnership with GTG, their Driver Training Manager, Robert Young, added: “‘We know GTG are as committed as we are to getting candidates learning properly and passing their Category C+E certificates, the one which is required to drive an articulated lorry.
‘With this apprenticeship, the candidates will see everything; they’ll be in the cab shadowing time-served, experienced drivers and learning the right things in training with GTG. That’s doubly valuable because the trainee drivers will get a true insight into what life can be like as an LGV driver. The hours can be long, the work intense, and working different shifts or being away from home and sleeping in your cab will inevitably impact your social life, there is no denying it. But we think those aspects are important for prospective drivers to see. Then we’ll know we have really well prepared and truly committed candidates.”
How GTG can help with LGV apprenticeships
For any business, it’s important to change and evolve so you can stay ahead of the curve. And with the evolution of LGV driving at such a crucial turning point, it’s vital to invest wisely in the future.
With the right partner, LGV apprenticeships can have a profound impact on your company and people – and they should be top of the list of your considerations when planning your medium to long-term driver training strategy.
GTG has over 50 years’ experience of delivering high-quality apprenticeships across the UK for the automotive industry. With dedicated training centres across the country – such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Wolverhampton – our experienced instructors in our Transport department hold nationally recognised qualifications awarded by the NVDIR (National Vocational Driving Instructor Register) and the RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) and our courses are continually assessed by awarding bodies.
Whether your business is bringing in apprentices who are embarking on a driving career or you have experienced drivers looking to add to their skills, we offer both on-site and off-site learning and our apprenticeships can be tailored to suit your business needs.