New Partnership To Tackle The UK’s Driver Shortage

New Partnership To Tackle The UK's Driver Shortage

It is estimated that there is a 50,000+ driver shortage across the UK. This is having a significant knock-on effect on other industries who rely on the logistics sector to meet customer demand.

As the UK’s leading Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) training provider, Specialised Training Services (STS) offers the high-quality training and financial support that’s required to encourage more individuals to enter the industry. They have recently partnered with Manpower to provide recruitment support for drivers, both during their training and once they have passed their tests and acquired their licence.

We spoke to Ben Bristow, Sales Director, and Solomon Kravitz, Head of Corporate Business, at Specialised Training Services, to learn more about the trends that are exacerbating the UK’s driver shortage and how their partnership with Manpower will make the difference.

All industries are seeing the impact of digitisation, but it has already transformed the logistics industry in many ways. How do you see technology impacting the sector in the years ahead, and in what ways do you think this will affect workers?

Ben: Technology has had a positive impact on drivers, with navigation and telemetry now standard across most fleets, giving managers and drivers access to more information when completing jobs. From a training perspective, this is very exciting as we begin to harness new technology aids such as virtual reality, augmented reality, multi-platform learning and real-time insight.

Previously, Fleet Managers would be reactive when road traffic accidents happened. Now, using dashcam footage and telematics, they can proactively look at the type of support each driver needs on an individual basis and align their training accordingly. We’re also seeing the introduction of driving simulators. Using virtual reality, drivers can practise being in real-life scenarios without there being any risks. They can see the consequences of serious situation and learn how to deal with them. A lot of driving schools are using technology to support their training efforts, but practical experience is still critical too.

Nonetheless, while e-commerce is increasing demand for drivers to manage deliveries and technology is creating new efficiencies, the prospect of driverless vehicles means the future of the industry is unclear. Despite this uncertainty, we’re still a long way from humans being replaced by technology.

Reports show that the logistics industry has an aging working population. How do you think this will impact organisations, and what can be done to attract more young people into the sector?

Solomon: This is a major factor impacting driver shortages in the UK. It costs around £3,000 to acquire an LGV licence, and training takes an industry average of eight months to complete. The high cost of licence acquisition is a barrier for many young people who are thinking of entering the sector. We believe that providing additional funding avenues for young candidates would make a positive impact on their ability to pursue a driving career.

Education is also important. There is a lot of misinformation about the logistics industry, such as the perception that it involves long, unsociable hours. Raising awareness is key, as many young people do not realise the earning potential and opportunities that are afforded for LGV drivers and other jobs in the sector.

It is well publicised that there is gender imbalance across the logistics industry, with some industry bodies reporting that 80% of the industry is male. What do you think can be done to bridge this divide?

Ben: Telematic information tells us that some of the best drivers in the industry are women. There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t – and couldn’t – have more women enter the industry.

The issue is that there is a public perception of logistics – and LGV roles in particular – being ‘male dominated’. This has become a barrier for many women. We must look to employers to make it clear that they want their fleets to be more diverse. We have recently seen a dramatic increase in the amount of women who are signing up for our LGV courses, but there’s more work to be done.

Can you tell us about the service that you offer to workers who are interested in becoming an LGV driver?

Ben: First and foremost, we are a training provider and we provide courses to qualify candidates for their LGV licence. LGV licence acquisition can be a very complicated process and we guide our candidates through the entire process, giving them access to the largest network of training centres in the UK. It can be quite daunting to change careers; and driving carries the additional risk of handling large and potentially hazardous vehicles. We strive to make it as comfortable a transition as possible.

With cost preventing most candidates from pursuing an HGV career, we secure financing for over 85% of our drivers. If you go to your local training centre, you would tend to pay cash upfront for the service. With our service, we provide a funding option where it can be paid off over 48 months – significantly increasing the candidate pool. Moreover, our training is designed to be equivalent to many commercial training programmes and we ensure that our candidates are work ready upon completion.

Why do workers choose to engage with your service, and what do you believe makes STS unique?

Solomon: We have the largest network of training locations across the UK, and our experience means we successfully guide 3,000 drivers a year through their HGV training.

Many other training providers will not assist with the theory and provisional requirements, but this is often the area with the highest dropout rate across the training process. By supporting in this area, we are able to help candidates complete their training quickly and with a higher chance of success. Now, with our unique career programme run by Manpower, we are able to offer this same level of service in their job search and introduce them to companies that are willing to employ them.

Can you tell us more about the partnership between STS and Manpower, and the ways in which this will benefit both workers and employers?

Ben: This partnership is a refreshing outlook on existing recruitment and training methods in the industry. Most companies exclusively recruit experienced drivers, so there is a large amount of newly qualified drivers who are unable to find employment easily. At the same time, many employers face excruciating talent shortages in their fleets.

With our partnership with Manpower, we are able to provide a professional development programme for our drivers that bridges this gap. Together, we have developed a programme that engages candidates from day one of their training all the way through to completion, giving them real insight into the industry, helping them to prepare and, of course, connecting them with companies that would be a great fit. As part of this partnership, we are also able to provide organisations with a large source of newly qualified drivers on a regular basis. We hope this becomes integral to many company’s recruiting practices in the coming months and years.

To learn more about Manpower’s partnership with Specialised Training Services, please visit: manpower.co.uk/driveracademy

This article first appeared in the tenth edition of The Human Age Newspaper.