Hermes has launched an apprenticeship programme designed to help address the national LGV driver shortage, whilst developing its own people.

The 12-month scheme has so far attracted 45 employees and will see them gain a Cat C licence and become a qualified LGV driver.

Every employee will be given one day off a week (or 20%) to support their studies.

The practical driving training will take place at Hermes’ Driving Academy in Nuneaton alongside additional instruction covering a range of areas such as preparing their vehicle, loading and unloading, keeping safe, the law, communication skills, problem solving and team working.

Once qualified, each participant will be offered the opportunity to have an interview for an LGV driver position within the company.

John Walker, transport manager (Maidstone) at Hermes UK, said: “The latest survey from the RHA estimates there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK. Our LGV apprenticeship programme is designed to help alleviate this industry wide challenge by allowing any one of our non-driving based employees to gain their Class 2 LGV licence.

“It won’t cost them a penny and they will be given paid time off during their current job for the practical and theory studying elements. The programme gives them the extra time and training to become safe and competent drivers rather than just passing a driving test. For me it’s good to hear when a driver says, ‘I’ve got a new skill for life, as Hermes has shown me the way to a career rather than a job.”

Scheme participant Bianca Sofrone said: “I joined Hermes as a night sorter and my role also includes driving a van out to the sub depots to deliver some parcels.

"Back in March I noticed a few posters advertising the scheme. I had always thought I would like to be a LGV driver, in fact it was my dream job, but it was something I could not afford to do at this stage in my life. I spoke to our transport manager who explained that it would be a great skill to have and coming from being a sorter would mean I knew how the operations worked. Following that conversation, I applied for the LGV apprenticeship programme and was accepted.”

Added fellow particiapant Roland Grainger: “I started last March as a night loader in the warehouse, scanning parcels, unloading/loading lorries and sorting parcels.

"I asked my manager at the time to put me forward to go through the internal forklift training which I passed of course with flying colours and my role now is assisting my team leader running the loading and dispatching of our lorries throughout the night shift. Early this year on the recommendation of our transport manager, I completed the shunter and banksman course which made me think about possibly driving for the company while I was shunting these vehicles during my shifts, as I enjoyed just moving them around from the yard to within the depot.

"Back in March this year, I noticed a massive noticeboard announcing an LGV apprenticeship which looked like an ideal opportunity for me to not only gain an extra skill but progress within a great company. I am really looking forward to completing the course and I am sure I can pass the LGV apprenticeship with the support of not only my manager allowing me study time during my working week but the support and encouragement shown from the driving academy team to fulfil my potential.”