Monday, July 3, 2017

Road Haulage Group and Asset Finance Company Work Together to Fund Freight Drivers

New Apprenticeship Partnership Aimed at Transport Sector Staff Problem
Shipping News Feature
UK – After questioning last month how employers could approach the problem of filling the increasing numbers of vacancies for commercial vehicle drivers, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has now taken a practical step toward solving the problem with the inception of a partnership programme aimed at assisting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) secure the skills they need for future growth by recruiting young drivers into the freight transport sector.

Close Brothers Asset Finance is part of the London headquartered merchant bank’s global operation, with a transport department aimed specifically at supporting smaller companies working in the transport field. The two organisations have now launched the ‘RHA/Close Brothers SME Apprentice Scheme – 20/20’, Close Brothers will contribute to the cost of apprentices for 20 SME members of the RHA (those with less than 20 vehicles) who might otherwise be unable to afford to take on a new apprentice Large Goods Vehicle driver under the age of 24.

Close Brothers Asset Finance will fund half of the new recruits’ wages during the first six months and a quarter in the second, meaning participating SMEs won’t have to bear the full cost of employing the apprentices until they are making a positive contribution to their business. The first intake will be later this year as detailed below. John Fawcett, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance Transport division, commented:

“We know from our work with transport SMEs that many would like to take on apprentices but they are worried about the cost, time, and resource involved. Britain’s transport companies urgently need to recruit and train a new generation of skilled drivers if they are to grow in an increasingly competitive market. We believe this pioneering scheme will provide genuine financial support to the SME sector.”

RHA members with less than 20 vehicles, will be required to employ an apprentice driver who is under 24 years of age, and be willing to allow them the necessary time to attend the theory and practical training which may mean time away from the business to complete the apprenticeship training. The apprenticeship lasts for one year and will conclude with an End Point Assessment. More detail on the requirements can be found on the application form which can be downloaded here and applications must be made by the 18th August.

Those selected to participate will be announced during National Lorry Week, 11th to 16th September and will commence training in October 2017. For more information on the scheme the relevant RHA contact is Colin Snape. Richard Burnett, RHA Chief Executive observed:

“Right now the road transport sector has a massive 45,000 driver shortage and in today’s economic climate, many smaller operators simply cannot afford to take on apprentice drivers. This new initiative will go a long way to providing 20 companies with the funding they need to give them and the industry they service a real boost.”