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Bootcamp brilliance: Government funding for HGV driver training extended

Published to the CV Show website on
23/05/2024

A government scheme to train up new HGV drivers, fill vacancies and help the UK driver shortage has been extended to February 2026.

The Government Skills Bootcamp in HGV Driving initiative offers an end-to-end programme lasting up to 16 weeks with minimal time away from other commitments.

It is for anyone aged 19 or over and living in England, employed, self-employed or unemployed, who holds a full UK driving licence, and provides an opportunity to gain a Cat C or C+E licence fully subsidised.

For an employer with staff members to upskill, the same will be provided with a 90% subsidy for a SME with under 250 staff or 70% contribution for a business with a turnover of £50m or having more than 250 employees.

Training provider HGVC said the scheme had made a big difference to the driver shortage and the firm has now been given the maximum possible allocation of £10m to train a further 1,828 candidates over the next two years.

The firm will focus solely on supporting employers looking to upskill their staff, either by gaining their category C and category C+E licences, or by helping those already holding a category C licence upgrade to C+E.

Since April 2023, more than 7% of HGVC’s trainees have been women, significantly more than the 1% of women who are HGV drivers in the UK.

In addition, more than 25% of trainees have been black, Asian, or from other ethnically diverse groups; currently, just 4% of HGV drivers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

James Clifford, chief executive of HGVC, said: “This is a hugely positive initiative that the government is undertaking and something that we are proud to again be a part of.

“The Skills Bootcamps have made a big difference to the driver shortage, yet there’s more that needs to be done. This is a long-term issue that requires an equally long-term solution.”

Earlier this year, HGVC was appointed by builders’ merchant MKM Building Supplies to train 54 drivers under the scheme.

As part of the contract, HGVC was able to immediately onboard and book drivers for every element of licence acquisition and offer training at locations across the UK.

The Department for Education (DfE) provided a 70% contribution towards the cost of training, with MKM covering the remainder.

Kerry Hunt, Learning & Development Business Partner, MKM Building Supplies, said: “Additional drivers allow us to meet our customer needs more effectively, so this is a critical business issue.

“We found the whole experience to be very smooth, and the entire process very well organised.

“HGVC also provided access to monthly and on-request reporting to update the training team on the progress of each delegate, so we had full visibility of where each candidate was on their training journey.”

Meanwhile, Wrexham-based Dulson Training has also become a prime Skills Bootcamp provider for 2024 and 2025.

As part of its multi-million pound two-year government contract, the company will offer HGV and ADR training for individuals and employers at its Nantwich, Shrewsbury, Telford, Ludlow and Wrexham training centres.

The course will include, enrolment, new skills, medical, theory tests, driver training, driving tests, Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) and employer engagement to find a suitable role.

Steve Dulson, Managing Director, said: “We had a fantastic record on our Skills Bootcamp rescue contract last year, with the DfE delighted with the pass rates and volume of successful job outcomes we achieved. It was a real company-wide effort with multiple people playing a big part.

“We are hitting the ground running, starting to enrol learners and are already engaging with employers who have vacancies to fill or staff to upskill.

“Although the shortage has eased in the last 12 months, it is predicted that it will start to spike again, and within a few years or even months we will have the driver shortages that we witnessed after Covid.”

Also, South Yorkshire-based Premier Fleet Solutions, trading as PFS Training, recently upgraded its new facility in Penistone, partly to help with the increase in Skills Bootcamp work.

A new training suite, complete with AV equipment and laptop workstations, will be core to the delivery of its courses for beginners looking to start driving careers.

The company now employs a team of five and has two sub-contracted trainers, with practical driver training delivered in the company’s fleet of learner vehicles – two articulated trucks, a rigid 18 tonner, a 7.5 tonne van and a bus.

Sarah Martin, director, said: “We’ve grown dramatically in recent years and helped more people than ever before to gain an HGV licence last year.

“It’s brilliant that we now have more space and better facilities to deliver our HGV Skills Bootcamps – and CPC courses; and to provide every individual with the learning support they need to pass their tests.”

In addition, several Skills Bootcamps are to be run across South Tyneside after the Council secured more than £3.7 million in government funding earlier this year.

The free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks will give people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills with the offer of an interview with a local employer on completion.

They have been co-designed with employers to respond to identified skills shortages and will be run in HGV driving, including transportation of dangerous goods, as well as Electric Vehicle Manufacturing, Gas Engineering and Renewables.

The courses are aimed at people aged 19 or over who live in England and have the right to work in the UK. Residency requirements will be checked by the training provider.

Councillor Jane Carter, Lead Member for Education and Skills, said: “The Borough is an industry leader in sectors such as low-carbon heat and renewable technologies.

“However, it is vital that we nurture the skills of our residents so that they can take advantage of these burgeoning green industries.”

The growth in HGV Skills Bootcamp funding is to welcomed and should see more drivers being given the skills and qualifications to start their professional driving careers and succeed in the logistics industry.

 

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