The new initiative is seen as a key solution to the growing shortage of large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers in the UK. Like many logistics companies the retailer, that has 95 stores across the country, faces a reducing driver population. This is due to the impact of Brexit and a lack of young people entering the industry. By joining with TRS, they will be offering LGV apprenticeships to over-18s in a push to rejuvenate the workforce.
Work in a Team
The apprentices will start their career training as drivers' mates. A new working structure will see them working in teams of three. This moves away from lone-worker driving that is now acknowledged to be too physically demanding due to the increasing number of delivery drops a driver has to make in a day.
Apprentices will undertake a pathway which will see them gain an LGV license after 6 months although they can drive a lorry under supervision from one of the other two team members after 3 months. Operating out of eight depots, Oak Furniture Land has worked with TRS Training to jointly shape a skills programme that meets the requirements of complex shift working patterns but makes it as smooth as possible for the apprentices. Virtual learning sessions play a key role in minimising disruption to both business continuity and the work-life balance of the budding drivers.
The training costs will be funded through the Apprenticeship Levy. Kevin Birch, a director at TRS Training explains:
“Like all large employers, Oak Furnitureland pays the Apprenticeship Levy introduced by the Government in April 2017. This training initiative is a great example of leveraging those funds to meet a pressing business need”.
The new apprentices will complete a level 2 Apprenticeship in Large Goods Vehicle Driving and, when qualified, will receive a £5000 top up to their salary as well as their LGV driving license. Kevin adds:
“We’re helping Oak Furnitureland recruit for up to 30 apprentice positions, and we are particularly welcoming applications from females aspiring to become drivers. Our sophisticated recruitment and training service makes the most of new technology, with many interviews carried out on Skype, and skills development sessions delivered virtually.”
Rewarding career choice
Alan Swinburn, Logistics director for Oak Furnitureland, says:
“We’re not the only company facing a recruitment challenge for new drivers. The initiative with TRS Training can benefit the logistics industry as a whole, with others hopefully following our lead.”
TRS sees more than 90% of their apprentices successfully through training. The LGV license requires applicants to take a medical and also a theory test. The comprehensive apprenticeship programme provides support in maths and English if required.
The first influx of LGV driver apprentices at Oak Furnitureland started in June 2018.