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SfL urges industry to take up funding for apprenticeships

By: William Hobson
07 December 2010

The logistics industry has been urged to head off future driver recruitment shortages by taking full advantage of new government funding for apprenticeships.

Mick Jackson, CEO of Skills for Logistics (SfL) - the skills council for driver CPC and logistics training - has urged employers to take advantage of the government's pledges for extra funding for apprenticeships. During October's Comprehensive Spending Review, an additional £250m per year was pledged to fund an additional 75,000 adult apprenticeships.

Road Transport reports that in response to rising numbers of vacant driving jobs, Mr Jackson has urged the logistics sector to act quickly and take up the offer before other sectors lay claim to the entirety of the funds.

"Money for training will be there if people call it down," he said. "If we don't, as ever, industries like catering, engineering and construction are pretty well geared up to come in and grab it."

The number of drivers wanted for vacant positions in the UK logistics sector has risen to 26,000 in 2010, according to official figures from SfL. In 2008 the figure was just 9,000, whilst during the same period vacancies in other logistics companies jobs - such as goods handling and storage roles - have risen to 20,000.

Mr Jackson says that SfL plans to launch a new general Logistics Apprenticeship next year.

"Insurance permitting, you could see a 16-year old come in and do their first year on the general topics they have to do such as English, maths and customer service," he said. Apprentices could then move on to get their Cat B license "and go out on the vans" before taking their Cat C and CPC training at 18.

"That starts to become an attractive career possibility"

As an alternative, Jackson has encouraged employers to revive "warehouse to wheels initiatives", moving employees between 19 and 24 from a warehouse or office role to an existing commercial driving apprenticeship with a 50% subsidy.

"Then the company can backfill with a new recruit who can take the storage and warehousing apprenticeship," he said.

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