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Combined Authority-funded HGV training driving new careers


Combined Authority-funded HGV training driving new careers

HGV training courses funded by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority are already helping people into new careers.

In October 2021 the Combined Authority funded a new programme to provide HGV training in response to well-publicised shortages of drivers. The quick action was possible thanks to devolution of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Adult Education Budget programme to the Combined Authority, giving it the flexibility to help meet the need for more drivers.

Many of the courses, which are free for learners, have been provided by Peterborough College, working in partnership with industry body the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which has provided practical training support.

The courses attracted more than 100 applicants and the demand meant that 60 drivers instead of an anticipated 20 were enrolled to achieve their CAT C or C+E HGV driving licence.

This increase in skills aims to give a real boost to the local economy, supplying the haulage sector with highly qualified drivers, while also giving people skills that employers demand, helping them start a new career.

Terry Gardner is firmly in the driving seat of this success story, becoming the first student to obtain his licence and secure a new role in the industry. He is now working for shipping company DFDS from its Whittlesey base.

He said: “Previously I was a builder, however I had been looking to leave the trade to find something less physical. With the shortage of lorry drivers being such a problem in the local area and beyond, I thought it would be good idea, especially as I have a clean licence.”

“The training was intense, but really rewarding once I passed the tests. I received great support from the college and RHA to ensure I had what I needed to become a HGV class 1 driver. I now work for DFDS Logistics and really enjoy my role. I would recommend this training – actually I have passed on the details to others who are looking to retrain!”

Terry received his new HGV driving licence at the end of March and by April, fifty percent of trainees had started their training, aiming to follow his lead into the industry.

This includes the programme’s first female participant, Rebecca Mitcham, who successfully completed training and landed a role as HGV driver at Orbit in St Ives. She was working full time in end of life and dementia care whilst saving up to fund her own training.

Rebecca said: “I had wanted to get my HGV licence for around two or three years and had been saving up to do it, then heard about this hoping I’d be able to get onto the course and thankfully I did! I enjoy driving as well as being out and about, therefore it made much sense to go into HGV driving.”

Both Terry and Rebecca said they were very well supported by the college in what was a challenging course.

The RHA offers one year’s membership to trainees along with further training and development opportunities for drivers to maintain their skills.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority continues to make the case for further Government funding to provide more skills like HGV training, including £4.9m recently secured for Skills Bootcamps kicking off this summer and a further allocation of £4 million from the Government’s Multiply numeracy skills programme.

The Combined Authority is continuing to fund HGV training in the next academic year 2022/23.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said:

“It is great to see the difference this funding is making to the lives of people in the region. It shows the benefits of local, flexible control of the adult education budget, and the importance of collaboration both with our local Peterborough College and with industry through the RHA. We saw the issue with HGV driver shortages, and we acted. It’s fantastic to see that action now bear fruit, benefitting people and local businesses.

“Skills are the currency of the jobs market, and the more opportunity we can offer people of all ages to learn and train, the bigger the benefits to people’s health, wealth and wellbeing, and to the economy in general. That’s why the Combined Authority is always making the case to Government for more funding to help even more people in the region to increase their skills.”

Alison Fox Executive Director, Business Development at Peterborough College said:

“Back in October 2021, the College developed a programme to engage, train and support individuals who would like to achieve their HGV licence and work in the logistics industry. This was in response to the national and local shortage of HGV drivers. The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority responded quickly to support this training with the funding required and we have now engaged 60 learners on the course, 5 of whom are now working as HGV drivers and 18 are currently undertaking the practical training.  This training provides a great opportunity for individuals to re-train and is providing local employers with the skilled workforce they need.

“We are pleased to confirm that funding will continue, for further information contact alison.fox@stamford.ac.uk.”

Richard Smith, RHA MD, said:

“This is a fantastic scheme helping people to get trained to drive lorries and secure work with a local firm.

“We’re delighted to be involved with the Combined Authority and Peterborough College to help local people start new careers in our industry.”