Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Logistics Group Tempts Staff with Road Haulage Driver Qualification

Scheme Designed to Assist with HGV Driver Shortage
Shipping News Feature

UK – At a time when the road freight industry faces a major crisis with the chronic truck driver shortage, Meachers Global Logistics has found a way to entice people to into trying a new vocation after it launched its new ‘Warehouse to Wheels’ scheme in a bid to encourage its existing warehousing staff to pursue a career as a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver.

The project, which is fully funded by Meachers, will see individuals undergo an intensive driver training programme, leading to all the necessary professional qualifications for them to achieve a full HGV 1 license. The training will take place at Meachers’ training facility at its Nursling headquarters. The course, which can take several months to complete has already attracted three employees, all of which will be offered full time driver positions within the company on successful completion of the course. Meachers trainee, Paul Fletcher, who is currently on the Warehouse to Wheels programme, said:

“This course is a fantastic opportunity to not only progress my career but to take it in an entirely new direction. I hadn’t really considered a career as a driver, but with the support of Meachers and the funding they are offering to get me fully qualified, I have much greater earning potential in a more skilled job.”

According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the industry is currently 40,000 drivers short with  around 45,000 due to retire in the next two years, not including those who have to leave for medical reasons or who have found another job, whilst only 17,000 are estimated to be entering the industry annually. Commercial Director at Meachers, Gary Whittle, commented:

“Across the logistics industry it is estimated that there is a need to recruit an additional 150,000 drivers by 2020 to satisfy demand. Employers are being forced to look at innovative ways in which to attract new people to this profession. For us, an obvious place to look was within our existing team, particularly within our warehousing department. The offer of free training and a guaranteed job driving state of the art HGV 1 vehicles is quite an attractive proposition and if the scheme proves successful then we hope to continue to offer the opportunity to those willing to take it.”

The driver shortage will undoubtedly negatively impact the supply chain as a whole and the FTA and the Road Haulage Association have joined forces to urge the government to help find a solution with a much needed investment package to aid driver training. Just last week the RHA delivered its urgent plea to the Prime Minister demanding government intervention. Road Haulage Association Chief Executive Richard Burnett said:

“We are now facing an unprecedented and critical shortage of qualified truck drivers – currently estimated to be in the order of 45,000 across the country. Current retirement levels and low levels of new entrants to the industry are creating a perfect storm.

“The cost of training to be a truck driver is very high – typically some £3,000. This is a serious barrier for individuals wishing to train up. Margins in the small and medium sized haulage companies that make up the bulk of our industry are very tight and this limits their capacity to fund the required training. To keep the economic recovery on track, the government needs to act, and act fast. We are urging the Prime Minister and Chancellor to invest £150 million in driver training in the July budget.”