For local government, the past few years have been tough. They face long-term funding cuts alongside ongoing inflationary pressures. This situation has been compounded by challenges in the recruitment of skilled staff such as HGV drivers. The country lost tens of thousands of HGV drivers as a result of COVID-19, Brexit and a range of other reasons such as poor terms and conditions.

Acknowledging the obstacles to economic activity resulting from the driver shortage, in December 2021 the Government launched the HGV Skills Bootcamps programme – an initiative to train more drivers and tackle the shortfall.

The Bootcamps are flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills. In the first phase of the programme, around 11,000 trainees have been trained, so these HGV drivers are already helping tackle the critical shortage in the industry. The Government, through the Department for Education (DfE), has now extended the programme for a further 12 months until 31 March 2024 – a testament to the success of the initial programme.

The?Driver Academy Group (DAG), a consortium led by HGV training specialist?HGVC,? and comprising workforce solutions group?Manpower and trade body?Logistics UK, has again been awarded the lead role on the Government’s extended Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving. This means that a further 1,300 places will be available for the training of new drivers.

Since the start of the initial scheme, the Driver Academy Group has helped 1,070 trainees to pass their practical test and these drivers are ready to drive. Some 535 drivers are in jobs and a further 400 have secured interviews.

Further positive news is that the funding model applied in the initial training drive will again apply. The model means that the impact on local government budgets will be limited. Employers will be responsible for just 30% of the cost, while the Department for Education will cover the remaining 70%.

We welcome the extension of this project. It will greatly assist local government and industry to overcome the challenges of the driver shortage that has hampered the UK economy for some time.

We are also encouraged by the fact that we have again been selected to lead the programmes. The scheme has already shown itself to be a lifeline for the delivery of much-needed services by local government and, with the extension of the scheme that will place into work many more HGV drivers in the coming months, this positive scenario will continue.

The possibility exists for a further extension of the initiative, should it be found that there is still the need for more driver training. HGVC’s courses primarily focus on novice training, help novice drivers gain their Category C (rigid lorry) licence, a Category C+E (articulated lorry) licence, or help those with a Category C licence upgrade to a Category C+E.

For employers looking for drivers ready to get behind the wheel, HGVC is also helping to train a further 860 fully-funded individual candidates. These candidates will gain either their Category C or Category C+E licence once they have completed their training and passed their theory and practical test. Employers will be able to take on the first of these new drivers towards the end of the summer.

Overall, HGVC will lead the training of at least a further 2,160 individuals over the next 12 months, thus providing a solid supply of new drivers that local government authorities can tap into.

How employers can apply

Employers interested in securing places for new trainee drivers, or those who would like to secure drivers currently being trained, can apply at?

HGVC’s courses are open to any business looking to train any employee with a driver’s license. The training courses are available at 60 locations across the country.?

Local government employers are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to train more HGV drivers at a limited cost to themselves and help put an end to the impact of the driver shortage.

This article first appeared in the summer issue of LAPV. To subscribe for free click here.