Robert Wilcox, Massey & Wilcox

Massey Wilcox Transport is calling on the government to tackle the driver shortage crisis by introducing a loan scheme for trainee HGV drivers, which would operate in a similar way to the student loan system.

MD Robert Wilcox believes the scheme would address the driver shortage more rapidly than the year-long Large Goods Vehicle driver apprenticeship, which currently only qualifies apprentices to drive rigids.

Last year saw a 31% fall in the take up of driving goods vehicles apprenticeships, which includes the Large Goods Vehicle apprenticeship, according to government figures.

Wilcox said that the driver shortage was one of the major challenges faced by family firm, which is based in Chilcompton, near Bath.

He told “We don’t need apprentices, we need drivers and we need them now.

"The government is happy to hand out £9,000 a year for university students and yet it would only take one loan of £3,000 to enable a young person to become an HGV driver in a matter of months, turning them into fully employed drivers earning £650 a week and paying national insurance and tax, which also benefits the country,” he added.

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Despite the challenges posed by the driver shortage Massey Wilcox Transport’s latest annual results, reveal that the firm’s pre-tax profit leapt by 21% to £840,890 (2017: £692,943) in the year to 31 May 2018. Turnover also rose in the period by 3.7% to £11.1m (2017: £10.7m).

Wilcox said the rise in pre-tax profit had been driven largely by picking up new business and expanding the work it does for its customers.

He added: “A lot of our new business has come from recommendations or from customers whose existing arrangements have failed – there are, sadly, a lot of family haulage businesses going out of business and so some of the work has come from that.”

Looking ahead Wilcox said he was confident the company, which is a member of Pallet-Track, would do “as well or even better than last year”.

He attributed this to the firm’s ability to win repeat business from the firm’s existing customer base and to the nature of its clients, which is largely made up of SMEs.

“What you find is that, unlike larger companies, these smaller firms are not so much price sensitive as service centred and so they stay with us because of our high levels of service,” Wilcox said.