The government has quashed hopes for a new HGV driving Trailblazer apprenticeship by rejecting the standards for a third time.

Despite the deepening driver shortage gripping the sector and the government's refusal to back an HGV driver training fund, the skills minister turned down the industry’s bid for the much-needed apprenticeship following a panel review of the training standard.

The panel felt that the training involved in becoming an HGV driver did not need to take 12 months, which was the necessary duration to be approved as an apprenticeship.

An industry-led group of employers, supported by FTA, RHA and the CILT, had been working on the standard for more than a year now, alongside a second apprenticeship for Supply Chain Operative - a decison on that is expected in August.

The sector’s submission was headed up by Colin Snape, HR manager at Nagel-Langdons, who told he was “extremely disappointed” by the government’s decision and had subsequently stepped down from chairing the group, although will continue to offer his support.

Snape said the panel  failed to understood the complexities of training a new driver, from the delay of up to three months in obtaining a test date, to medicals, classroom sessions and on-the-road training and assessment. “Maybe they should spend a day or two in the cab with a driver in a major city,” he added.

While the submission can be put through again, Snape felt it unlikely to be passed.

Jack Semple, director of policy at the RHA, told MT he was “astonished” by the decision. “It will be a real kick in the teeth for the whole industry.”

He added that the decision goes against every indication from the government that apprenticeships were the key to attracting targeted funding for training HGV drivers.

Sally Gilson, FTA skills development manager, said the FTA was "desperately disappointed" at the decision and at the government going back on its pledge to find an industry-led solution to solve the driver crisis.

She added: “If the 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.

"FTA urges BIS to rethink its decision and work with industry to find a solution as a matter of urgency.”

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman confirmed to MT the apprenticeship standards had not been approved at this time. “New apprenticeship standards must require a minimum of 12 months rigorous and substantial training.  This is a key element of our policy to drive up the quality of the Apprenticeships programme,” he added.

The department said it is continuing to work with the Logistics Trailblazer group and has provided feedback to help develop the standard. The next deadline for submitting standards in 27 August.

Existing apprenticeship schemes and funding will be axed in September 2017, with industry-developed Trailblazers replacing them.