Training company Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is attempting to tackle the problem of the HGV driver shortage by launching a course aimed at helping transport and line managers retain their driving staff.

The training company, which is a subsidiary of Knights of Old, is set to launch the course early next year after trialling it internally with driver managers and other hauliers earlier this year.

Speaking to, Merlin MD Andy Frost said: “We believe the best form of driver recruitment is to retain drivers in the first place. As an industry we really can do better at retaining our experienced drivers in the first place.

"This course will help managers improve the skills needed to help that retention.”

Frost said improving managers’ skills would cut the cost of recruitment for many companies. Pointing to the industry attrition rate for drivers, estimated at between 20 and 30%, Frost said: “Retention is so much cheaper than recruitment. If you consider that it costs around £1,000 to bring a driver on board, retaining them is essential.”

Frost said the course will consist of seven modules covering driver management and organisational skills as well as legal aspects such as driver hours and the Working Time Directive. It is currently being appraised for accreditation by the Institute of Logistics and will be ready to launch in January.

He added: “The course is aimed at front line managers, those that interact on a daily basis with the drivers.

"Drivers are people we have already invested in who have often come into the business through a robust entry system, so it seems ludicrous to lose these people simply because we don’t have the skills to interact with them properly or because, for example, managers are inadvertently asking too much of them, such as asking them to do a 20 minute run in 15 minutes. The problem can be that simple.”

Frost said the course will focus on honing managers’ communication skills. He explained: “If we have a driver who is underperforming often the default mode in this industry is to scream and shout at them rather than communicating with them to find out where the problem lies. We want to change that.”