Sunday, 30 August 2015

Government rejects driver apprenticeship proposal . . .


Government rejects driver apprenticeship proposal

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The skills minister Nick Boles has rejected a ‘trailblazer’ bid mounted by industry bodies which would have provided apprenticeship funding and support for large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers.

Trade associations reacted with disappointment to news that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) turned down their proposed LGV driver apprenticeship standard – which they had hoped would launch in September 2017 – suggesting it was at odds with the government’s pledge at the pre-election Budget to work with hauliers to help tackle the driver crisis.

Sally Gilson, skills development manager at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said the organisation was “desperately disappointed” at the announcement.

“It appears that the government has gone back on its pledge to find an industry-led solution to solve the driver crisis, with the minister for skills deciding to reject the proposed standard for large goods vehicle drivers,” she said.

“This diminishes the value of the existing apprenticeships that are successfully bringing much-needed young people into the industry.”

With the average age of a professional lorry driver at 52, FTA said that the driver shortage would be exacerbated without access to apprenticeships, leaving the industry: “bereft of funding options for driver training.”

It added that it would look carefully at whether to mount an appeal or prepare a new submission to BIS.

“If government is rejecting driver apprenticeships then what alternative funding will it be providing?” Gilson asked.

“The freight and logistics sector has a major shortage of drivers with companies desperate to fill vacancies and professionalise the role. FTA urges BIS to rethink its decision and work with industry to find a solution as a matter of urgency.”

Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was: “urgently assessing the implications of the decision on the industry and whether or not there is any point in resubmitting.”

“We have already raised a number of issues with government officials in respect of the likely impact on large companies and on SMEs,” added RHA.

“The lack of any significant government support to help plug the HGV driver shortage is a huge disappointment to the RHA and the industry as a whole.”

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