The FTA and RHA joined forces at a Treasury meeting last Friday (20 Feb) to push for immediate government funding towards the cost of training and licence acquisition for new HGV drivers.

A joint statement issued by both associations said the Treasury got a “clear message” that the road transport industry is facing an unprecedented situation that needed urgent government intervention and an immediate cash injection if impact on the UK economy is to be minimised.

The statement added: “Grants to road transport operators would have a fast and beneficial effect on the number of new drivers trained and would help fill the current 45,000 driver shortfall.

“We set out a framework for how these systems would work. They would be nationwide, straightforward, accessible and time-limited in view of discussions between the industry and government over apprenticeship funding from 2017.”

From 2017, an industry-designed, government Trailblazers apprenticeship is anticipated to be in place for the logistics sector, which would incorporate the role of HGV driver, and enable employers to directly access funding for external training.

The meeting also discussed how a student loan-type arrangement could have a role in the long term.

“In the meantime, the chancellor has an opportunity in his budget  to reverse a damaging driver shortage and help drive positive change in the industry,” the associations added.