Give logistics businesses time to implement new apprenticeship standard, says Logistics UK

The introduction of a new Apprenticeship category for HGV drivers, enabling them to drive HGVs and trailers (or C+E as categorised on their driving licence), has been welcomed by business group Logistics UK as a positive step in building and retaining the workforce of tomorrow.

But the organisation is pressing government to extend its incentive payment scheme of £3,000 per candidate beyond the current deadline of the end of September, to ensure that reach of the scheme can be maximised.

“The introduction of a new C + E Apprenticeship standard is welcome news for our sector,” explains Alex Veitch, General Manager of Public Policy at Logistics UK.  “The Apprenticeship model of “earning while learning” adds appeal for new entrants to a logistics career, particularly those who may have lost jobs during the pandemic and is ideal for a practical career like HGV driving.  But with only six weeks to understand the parameters of the new Apprenticeship standard, identify training providers and recruit the new staff to undertake the programme, the opportunities for businesses in our sector to take advantage of the government’s signing-on incentive are very limited. 

“Many businesses in our sector experienced severe financial hardship as a result of the economic shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, and with many organisations still on the road to recovery, there is no spare cash to fund the wage bill of a new employee.  A financial incentive to sign up an apprentice is vital to cover wages and other costs which the business will incur as they get back on their feet, and we are urging government to extend the incentive scheme for a further three months, so that apprentices recruited before 1 December 2021 are eligible (currently apprentices must have been recruited by 30 September to be eligible).  This will ensure that as many logistics businesses as possible can start to recruit and develop their future workforce by using the Apprenticeship scheme and protect the logistics sector against further shortages of drivers and other key workers.”

Currently, the logistics sector is facing an estimated shortage of around 90,000 HGV drivers, according to Logistics UK’s figures, and it is hoped that the new Apprenticeship standard will help businesses across the industry recruit the new drivers it needs for long-term stability;

“Our sector, powered by dedicated HGV drivers, has kept the UK stocked with all it requires throughout the pandemic,” continues Veitch.  “But with numerous factors including the loss of European workers driving the skills shortage, now is the time for our industry to attract new employees. By extending the incentive deadline, government could help to bridge the gap in cash flow which many businesses have experienced because of the pandemic, and assist in the futureproofing of our key workforce for the benefit of UK plc.”

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