Announced at the Microlise Transport Conference in front of 1,000 senior transport professionals, the new not-for-profit organisation is called Road to Logistics and has been formed by a collaboration between Bob Harbey, Microlise executive director, and Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association.
Road to Logistics will seek to give veterans and reformed offenders the opportunity of a long-term career in transport and logistics.
A pilot initiative is now underway, with five drivers starting their training. The programme ends with them securing qualifications, such as HGV licences, to begin work in the transport and logistics industry.
The organisation is working with services charity Care after Combat and HM Prison Service to identify potential recruits. After interviews and assessments, individuals will be funded and supported through professional licence training before placement in an appropriate job.
“We have an objective to have 30 to 50 drivers through the programme by Christmas. We want to walk before we run and ensure that the programme is nationally scalable,” said Bob Harbey, who is also Road to Logistics chief executive, speaking at the Microlise Transport Conference.
“The aim is to gather evidence during the pilot phase to show the exchequer that there is a net gain to the economy by running this programme. We then hope to secure further funding to increase the numbers of new professional drivers being created,” he added.
Major hauliers have already begun to allocate vacancies and will accept the first new drivers to complete the programme. DAF Trucks dealership Ford & Slater is providing vehicles for use in training.
Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive and chairman of Road to Logistics, said: “Right now, the road transport and logistics industry is facing a massive driver shortage – currently standing at 45,000. If we can help address the issue and at the same time support those in society who may need a helping hand on to the employment ladder, then it is an opportunity that must be taken.”
The launch at the Microlise event today also featured: Jim Davidson OBE, executive chairman of Care after Combat; governor Poole of HMP Sudbury Prison; and Paul Allera, head of fleet at Fowler Welch.
Microlise has put £100k into Road to Logistics to fund the pilot phase and the business will operate within the Microlise Group for financial stability.