Mobile Mini is a fast-growing provider of temporary site accommodation and secure storage containers across the UK. Founded in the USA in 1983, it set up in the UK in 2005 in Stockton on Tees and now has 16 depots with more than 36,000 portable units.

Mobile Mini currently runs around 50 crane-equipped drawbar delivery trucks and employs 43 drivers. Like most operators it has struggled to find enough qualified HGV drivers to cope with the firm’s growth plans.

It has now launched a driver development programme to recruit trainee drivers internally from Mobile Mini’s workforce. While the firm employs 450 staff, Chris Watcham, the company’s health and safety director (pictured), said around half of those are office based so he is looking to find eight new drivers from a pool of 225 potential recruits by the end of 2016.

“We looked for existing employees and put them through a driver training programme,” he said. “Our vehicles are equipped with Hiabs so they have to do the crane training too. So we might take say a forklift truck driver, put him through his HGV licence and then train him in all the safety aspects of the job.

“They will then spend time with an experienced driver to make sure they are confident as well as qualified when they get the keys and go out on the road on their own.”

Mobile Mini’s network covers the UK from Glasgow to Southampton and Watcham says the company has struggled to recruit drivers on the south coast especially.

“We have vehicles stood in Southampton due to a shortage of drivers,” he said. “We are right next to the docks and when you in that market it is hard to recruit good drivers. One of the people we developed internally from a yard guy into a driver was in the Southampton branch.”

The first internal recruitment drive resulted in three new drivers completing training and Watcham is confident that the second round will yield a better result.

“We have three trained and out on the road already,” he said. “On the next wave I think we will get a few more because people saw it as something new and didn’t want to take that step. Now they can see it has been a success I expect a better uptake.”

All this training is expensive so drivers are on a sliding scale contract under which they have to repay a proportion of the training costs if they leave the company within a certain period.

Mobile Mini is still recruiting externally and is always prepared to upskill existing drivers on its crane operation if they show the right aptitude. “We can and will convert class 2 drivers onto the hook crane,” Watcham says. “We don’t close the door on anyone if they have the right attitude.”