Manpower Driver Academy: In Conversation

Even before the impact of COVID-19 hit in early 2020, the driving and logistics sector was already experiencing one of the UK’s biggest skills shortages. With rising customer expectations, an ageing workforce, a lack of industry appeal to younger workers and the looming impact of Brexit, the industry is facing a ‘perfect storm’ of talent shortages – particularly for drivers. In fact, the Freight and Transport Association estimates the industry shortfall at around 59,000 workers in the UK.

In an effort to tackle the skills crisis, Manpower partnered with the UK’s leading driver training partner in 2019 to launch the Driver Academy. Here, we speak to Michael Robinson, Sales Team Manager at Manpower, about the initiative and how it works.

Tell us about the Driver Academy and what it aims to achieve.

The HGV driver shortage crisis that is upon us has been affecting not only haulage companies but recruitment agencies across the UK. There simply aren’t enough reliable, motivated and safe HGV drivers to meet the current requirements. We launched the Driver Academy to create the next generation of HGV drivers with a strong focus on safety, best practices and support, to ensure we are training and retaining the best quality of driver for years to come.

What services are on offer to clients and candidates?

First and foremost, our goal is to support both clients and candidates during the training, recruitment and onboarding process. Our focus is not on quantity but more on quality of service with a long-term vision in mind. Our clients get access to an exclusive talent pool of HGV drivers who are fully trained, certified and ready to hit the road. With nationwide coverage, we can support operations from Inverness to Plymouth and Birmingham to Hull, and everywhere in between. We are committed to high standards of service and can deliver support during peak business times by offering our large talent pool of drivers where and when they are required.

Could you outline the process from a new candidate enrolling with the Driver Academy to their first placement behind the wheel?

We have a well-oiled 7 step process for candidates coming through the Academy that ensures they get the best possible support.¬†Thanks to this model, our Driver Academy candidates receive expert guidance in both theoretical and practical sides of the role. They complete their “hands-on” training with the UK’s leading HGV training provider, and our team of driving recruitment experts assist every step of the way to ensure candidates achieve a solid understanding on the role, sector and more importantly the opportunities on offer.

How long does it take to train and develop a new HGV driver?

The industry average is typically anywhere from 12-18 months. We have managed to develop a model that takes 3-4 months. How? By supporting the candidates through their practical training, providing realistic work placements and offering the guidance they need, when they need it.

What does the Driver Academy do differently?

Our unique model means we create an exclusive and bespoke talent pipeline for our clients AND we create the same opportunity pipeline for our candidates. We have a clear long-term vision. We understand our clients’ businesses and we train and support drivers to meet the current industry requirements. Our clients and candidates are an extension of our business and we pride ourselves in providing the highest level of service to both.

How have you had to adapt the business strategy in the constantly changing conditions of 2020?

It has been an interesting challenge to say the least. Our Academy solution was starting to gain some real traction before lockdown, but the pandemic meant a lot of our clients stopped recruiting. First and foremost, we were concerned for clients’ and candidates’ safety – we wanted to offer support in any way possible during the initial outbreak. Everyone was in the same boat – we had to take each day as it came and adapt to whatever was thrown at us. I think given the uncertainty, we inevitably saw an increase in demand for temporary drivers which then gradually moved to permanent roles once confidence in the market returned. It’s important we remain flexible and adapt to what candidates and clients need during these unprecedented times; there is no short-term fix and we always strive to look at the bigger picture.

And what does the future look like for the Driver Academy?

Firstly, I think the resilience of the sector and the crucial part that road haulage has played during the pandemic is amazing. This goes a long way in helping us to attract new talent into the industry and, more importantly, will give companies the support they need to retain new drivers. Unfortunately the driver shortage is only getting worse, as the UK continues to lose more drivers daily than we have coming into the sector. This being said, the future for the Driver Academy is looking very positive. We have a high number of candidates coming through our training programme, clients are coming to us looking for a sustainable solution to their driver recruitment, and we have established some brilliant, strategic relationships during the last 6 months. Our priorities have never changed – we need to attract, train and retain new drivers into this ever-evolving sector, and we remain focussed on and committed to helping clients find their next generation of reliable, motivated and job-ready HGV drivers.

 

To find out more about the Manpower Driver Academy, visit manpowergroup.co.uk/driver-academy/