The shortage of drivers has come into sharp focus with fuel and other supply chain issues leading to a lack of available goods across a range of sectors.
The Combined Authority is funding the training through its devolved control of the Adult Education Budget for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Under the Adult Education programme, Peterborough College will provide a route into driver training. And a new independent training provider, System Group, has also been commissioned to train more local drivers.
System Group will work with local employers through a specially set up Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP), to identify suitable candidates and train them to get their HGV licence. The SWAP will offer pre-employment training, work experience placements and a guaranteed job interview, helping to fill much needed roles in the transport and logistics sector.
The aim is to train an initial 45 HGV drivers via both Peterborough College and System Group, and, if successful, there is potential to build further long-term capacity. The courses are free* and trainees must be aged over 19 and live in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Funding the providers is another example of the Combined Authority’s ability to react quickly to respond to local skills needs. The training will support local employers and the economy while also helping people into better paid jobs and careers by raising levels of skills.
With the average age of HGV drivers being 55, much older than the national average, and only 2% under the age of 25, many drivers are coming up to retirement while not enough young drivers are coming through to replace them. Too few people are considering a career as an HGV driver, because of a lack of understanding of the industry and perceptions about working hours, pay, and conditions.