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Record numbers of women, younger people and ethnic minorities have applied to get on the government-funded HGV driver ‘bootcamps’, according to training consortium The Driver Academy Group.

The group, which comprises Manpower, Logistics UK and is led by training provider HGVC, said it had received 589 applications from women since the scheme launched in December.

This represents 7% of the total – significantly more than the 1% of women who are currently HGV drivers in the UK.

The group said it had also received 2,000 applications from black, asian and other ethnic minority groups, or nearly a quarter of the total.

Currently, just 4% of HGV drivers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

In addition, it said more than 2,500 applications (30%) received to date are from people under the age of 36.

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The data follows comments by the National Logistics Academy last month that the bootcamps had got off to a flying start after 5,374 expressions of interest were received, with a target to bring around 11,000 HGV drivers into the industry.

The Driver Academy Group said overall it had received more than 8,300 applications for its HGV driver training schemes, but there were still some limited spaces available.

James Clifford, HGVC chief executive, said: “One of our aims on winning the government contract was to ensure our HGV driver training schemes were appealing to underrepresented groups.

“So, the fact that so many women, those from ethnically diverse backgrounds and younger people have applied demonstrates the appeal of the industry together with the government-funded skills bootcamps.”

Logistics UK said it had been “overwhelmed” by the level of interest: “This is a positive step forward for an industry that has struggled historically to recruit women and those from more diverse backgrounds,” said David Jordan, deputy operations director at Logistics UK.

“We are pleased the percentage of female applicants outstrips the industry average, but we recognise more work needs to be done to attract more women.

“There are so few females in the profession, despite the benefits of the flexible working patterns and controlled hours which professional driving can provide, crucial to fit around childcare and other commitments.”