driver training

A scheme to train ex-offenders as HGV drivers has won £1m of government funding after a successful trial at HM Sudbury Prison.

The trial, which was run by driver training scheme Road to Logistics, saw prisoners linked with potential employers and trained to become qualified HGV drivers.

Now the not-for-profit organisation has been given the go-ahead to use the £1m funding boost to train up to 300 drivers in the first year as part of a pilot scheme which could be rolled out in prisons across the UK.

Road to Logistics was founded in May 2016 by RHA and fleet management systems provider Microlise to help hauliers tackle the HGV driver shortage by recruiting new talent from the ranks of ex-veterans, the long-term unemployed and ex-offenders.

Announcing the funding, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Not only will this new programme help make this industry even stronger, but it will help pave the way for those who may be struggling to secure a permanent job and turn their lives around.”

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RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: "This is the culmination of three years of collaboration and hard work between the RHA and Microlise. The future of the UK road transport industry depends on its drivers and right now we’re facing a shortage of approximately 60,000.

"Road to Logistics will go some way to resolving this while at the same time supporting ex-offenders, the long-term unemployed and individuals from other disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s fantastic that Government is supporting an initiative that will help to resolve the shortage of drivers whilst providing a helping hand for those that need it the most."

He added: “The first-of-its-kind plan for the industry will see serving prisoners linked with potential employers, undertake crucial training and gain qualifications, including taking their driving test. They will have a guaranteed job on release, helping them turn their back on crime and transform their lives.”

Microlise executive director Bob Harbey also welcomed the funding, adding: “The next stage is to focus on unlocking the Apprenticeship Levy for our sector.”

Sir Mike Penning, chair of the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on road freight and logistics, also called for the funding to be backed by government action on the Apprenticeship Levy.

"We must now focus on ensuring that employers can access the Apprenticeship Levy in a meaningful way. The Levy must be expanded too so employers can give their apprentices the right training they need to succeed."