The Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver Apprenticeship is set to be torn up this summer and replaced with two new LGV Driver Apprenticeships, one of which will include the cat C+E licence for the first time, while the other will focus on urban driving skills and only include the cat C licence.

The move, approved last month by the DfT and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE), the body that oversees apprenticeships, follows widespread criticism that the current LGV Driver Apprenticeship standard is not fit for purpose because it only offers a cat C licence while most operators need drivers with a cat C+E licence.

FTA head of skills Sally Gilson told MT that the move to include a cat C+E in the LGV Driver Apprenticeship standard was approved last month by the DfT and the IFATE. She said: “It was agreed that the amended LGV Driver Cat C+E Apprenticeship would be submitted and ready to use by the summer. During this time another apprenticeship that will provide an alternative route for cat C only will be developed with the help of the DfT and will focus on more urban driving.

“We are hopeful that both apprenticeships will be available by the autumn. The Trailblazer group is meeting on 29 January to discuss the proposition further.”

IFATE member and chief executive of the Skills Group David Coombes said: “In essence, the existing apprenticeship standard will be amended to include the cat C+E licence by the summer.”

However he warned that there could be some time before an LGV apprenticeship offering a cat C licence is on offer. “The challenge will lie with the new cat C licence. The existing LGV Driver Apprenticeship standard containing the cat C licence will be scrapped when the new LGV Driver Apprenticeship standard containing the cat C+E licence is launched. It could be months before rigid operators will have the new urban-focused LGV Driver Apprenticeship standard offering a cat C licence. It will be a challenge to launch that by the autumn.”

RHA policy director Duncan Buchanan welcomed the inclusion of cat C+E in the LGV Driver Apprenticeship, but criticised the time it has taken. He said: “It has been a mission from hell to convince bureaucrats that the transport sector needs two LGV apprenticeships.

“We and others in the industry have been pushing very hard for this outcome for years and it is lamentable that it has taken so long, particularly when the industry has paid so many millions into the Apprenticeship Levy.

“This delay has been particularly frustrating because it is self-evident that an apprenticeship that trains to cat C+E standards is badly needed in an industry suffering a severe driver shortage.

“Even now there is no clear end date [for the launch], so while we are hopeful that this will happen by the summer, bearing in mind previous delays, we are exercising a cautious optimism.”