Despite the former government making a pledge in the spring Budget that it would work with road haulage firms on an industry-led solution to the driver shortage problem – including looking at access to, and funding support for, training – Nick Boles MP says that BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills) has now rejected the idea.
"This decision diminishes the value of the existing apprenticeships that are successfully bringing much-needed young people into the industry," comments Sally Gilson, FTA skills development manager.
FTA makes the point that the average age of a professional truck driver is 52 so the freight and logistics industry is desperate to engage with young people.
However, without access to apprenticeships, the looming driver shortage crisis will only be exacerbated. Further, without government funding the industry will have to fend for itself – and with margins slender. That just won't yield the numbers required.
"If government is rejecting driver apprenticeships then what alternative funding will it be providing? The freight and logistics sector has a major shortage of drivers with companies desperate to fill vacancies and professionalise the role," states Gilson.
"FTA urges BIS to rethink its decision and work with industry to find a solution as a matter of urgency."