Routes to turn learners into lorry drivers are being opened by the Department for Education and mayoral combined authorities in response to national driver shortages.
The government last Friday published a £17 million tender for bootcamps for 5,000 learners either looking to earn their heavy goods vehicle driving licence, earn a different type of licence or refresh their skills.
This is an increase on the £10 million budget and 3,000 target the government originally set for the bootcamps.
DfE running bootcamps and flexing funding rules to fill driver shortage
Suppliers will need to ensure each bootcamp is completed in 16 weeks, starting in December and ending in March 2022, “with a preference for compressed timelines where possible”.
However, bootcamps for “new drivers who have no prior experience” can continue beyond this deadline, but learners must be “road ready” by November 30, 2022.
Bidders had until October 13 to tell the DfE whether they intended to participate; the tender will close to bids on October 22.
Contracts will be officially awarded on November 19, with learners starting from December 6.
The department has also introduced a flexibility for the five goods vehicles driving qualifications fundable from the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s adult education budget.
Providers will be able to pay for medical tests and HGV driving licences for learners.
This applies for learners who started one of the qualifications on or after August 1, and the flexibility will be included in version three of the ESFA’s AEB funding rules, due to be published shortly.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is also fast tracking the development of a level 2 urban driver apprenticeship for people to drive other types of lorries and collection and delivery vehicles over short distances.
Training requirements and the end-point assessment plan have been approved, so the standard ought to be available in the “near future” to “help resolve driver shortages,” says the institute’s deputy director, Jane Pierce.
The large goods vehicle driver standard was also revised in August, when its maximum funding band was increased to £5,000 to £7,000 and an HGV driving licence was included as a mandatory qualification, the institute added.
MCAs hoping to turn the out-of-work into HGV drivers
The shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers in the UK has left retailers and businesses short of stock for weeks.
Research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation representative body has found high numbers of vacancies for HGV drivers are widespread, rather than concentrated in one area.
The five areas of England with the highest number of shortages are, in descending order, the Black Country, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Leicestershire.
FE Week also approached the ten mayoral combined authorities with DfE and mayors speed up efforts to tackle HGV driver shortage a devolved AEB to find out what they were doing to meet the driver shortage.
Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Combined Authority has commissioned Peterborough College and independent provider System Group to train more drivers and tackle the critical shortage.
The courses will be free for people out of work or earning less than £20,000 per year.
It is hoped an extra 45 drivers will be trained through this scheme.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority is meeting with logistics sector representatives to see what it can do through training initiatives.
Several other combined authorities, including Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater London Authority, were already running HGV driving courses through their AEB provision before the immediate crisis