Support for learners to take up HGV driving qualifications have been extended for another year in a bid to get more haulage drivers on the country’s roads.
Last year the government announced ambitions to train 4,000 new HGV drivers to tackle the shortage of haulage drivers – 3,000 to be trained through skills bootcamps and 1,000 through the adult education budget (AEB).
The government had said the HGV offer in the AEB was under review, and on Wednesday confirmed its 2022/23 adult education budget rules would include an extension of the flexibilities for a further year.
It means participants taking an eligible level 2 qualification to become an HGV driver will have the first attempt costs of the HGV licence and medicals covered by the government, as well as for an upgrade from a category C licence to a C&E licence – those for articulated lorries.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education said: “Our skills bootcamps in HGV driving and HGV courses offered through the adult education budget have proved highly popular.
“We want more adults to take advantage of these courses and get on the path to well-paid careers in the logistics sector, which is why we have extended our AEB offer for another year.”
It is not yet clear whether the government hit its target numbers outlined last September, but it said courses had been “highly popular”.
Latest government statistics published in March this year found that there were 27,144 practical HGV driver tests from October to December last year – more than double the same period in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In May, Logistics UK, the business group for the logistics industry, said that the driver shortage remained “chronic” but expressed “cautious optimism that initiatives introduced by government and industry in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022 are starting to yield results.”
It said its analysis of labour survey data indicated that the number of HGV drivers in employment had fallen by just over 30,000 in the first quarter of 2022, but that was a smaller reduction than the last two quarters of 2021 at 44,000 and 49,000.
It added: “It is vitally important that these initiatives continue at pace to maintain recruitment levels and ensure that a sustained future pipeline of skilled drivers can be available to support the supply chain as the economy recovers after the impact of the pandemic.”