The Department for Education is to spend up to £10 million on new Skills Bootcamps to “ease the risk of shortages” of HGV drivers.
In a package of measures announced on Saturday night, the government wants 3,000 new HGV drivers through the bootcamp route and a further 1,000 new drivers to be trained up through the adult education budget.
A lack of drivers has been blamed for a range of distribution issues across retail for several weeks, including in supermarkets and petrol forecourts. The pandemic, Brexit and chronic workforce issues are all believed to be contributing to the current crisis.
Other measures include drafting in Ministry of Defence examiners to boost driver testing capacity are also being announced today. The Department for Transport and the DVLA have said they will send a letter to 1 million HGV driving license holders to encourage those not currently working to get back in to the industry.
The new HGV driver Skills Bootcamps will include training for a Cat C or Cat C&E license, which is required to drive vehicles weighing over 3,500kg.
DfE also hope the apprenticeship route will help to alleviate the current labour shortage. According to their statement this evening, they have been working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to “boost the apprenticeships on offer for large goods vehicle drivers including by updating the current Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship and increasing its funding.”
“HGV drivers keep this country running. We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi
At the time of writing, there are 2 adverts for 9 HGV driver apprenticeship vacancies on the government’s Find an Apprenticeships service. Both offer the level 2 ‘Large goods vehicle driver C and E’ standard. To date, Skills Bootcamps are designed to be targeted at levels 3-5, though they do not have to contain qualifications.
Skills Bootcamps are funded from the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund and are currently only available in limited sectors; construction, digital, engineering and manufacturing, green skills and rail. Programmes run for up to 16 weeks and must be designed with a guaranteed job interview in an in-demand industry.
AELP’s chief executive Jane Hickie welcomed extra investment in Skills Bootcamps,
“Haulage shortages have been causing chaos across the country, so it’s great to see the Government taking decisive action.
“Getting 4000 new workers trained and into quality HGV careers is a good target. Independent training providers are ready to play their part in delivering this training and are uniquely equipped to respond with agility. AELP strongly welcome the continued rollout and investment in bootcamps. We believe these are a great mechanism for training and reskilling the workforce.”
Providers for current Skills Bootcamps were selected in two ‘waves’ of procurement exercises which began in January this year. A ‘pre-procurement information notice’ was issued by the Department for Education last week, 21 September, for a possible wave 3, but it is not yet known whether this relates to HGV bootcamps announced today.
Earlier this year, providers hoping to deliver Skills Bootcamps faced “worrying” delays in their tender outcomes, which DfE reasoned was due to the large volumes of bids received.