Media coverage in The Times last month caused a stir when it was reported that Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey suggested that teens could be trained to drive HGVs.
Government ministers proposed that the UK could abandon EU driving regulations – that limit the types of vehicles newly-qualified drivers can operate – to tackle the shortage of delivery drivers in the UK. With a larger pool of drivers available, many supermarkets, retailers and logistics businesses could have a greater chance of alleviating the pressures and backlogs currently plaguing supply chains.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, road safety campaigners are concerned about the likely outcomes of putting newly qualified drivers in charge of 7 tonne vehicles, but amid the debate there has been little mention of the government’s HGV bootcamps, currently progressing with great success.
The UK’s driver crisis isn’t ‘new’ news. Although Brexit and the global pandemic certainly highlighted the issue and put pressure on the sector, the ageing population had already set in motion a slow but steady decline of experienced, trained drivers for large delivery vehicles. And last year, the government announced HGV driver training bootcamps in response.
Qube Learning had 500 enquiries on the first day the course became available. There is certainly demand for drivers, and there is demand for training. Before suggesting teenagers begin training to drive lorries, we should first matching training to candidates in line with current supply and demand.
“We need more bootcamps. There is such a gap between driver supply and demand in the UK and with the ageing workforce there is a significant skills shortage. There’s no way around it.
“Whilst apprenticeships have a place in the market, I don’t think it’s possible to offer enough apprenticeships to solve this particular problem. HGV bootcamps are necessary to get back to an even keel.”
Using bootcamp training to fulfil current demand and job vacancies, by changing employers’ attitudes towards newly qualified HGV drivers
Challenges and success rates within the bootcamp course and why government must extend the scheme beyond November to meet the ongoing skills crisis head on
By Kismet Finch, Head of Skills Development at Qube Learning