The trailblazer group for the logistics sector has expressed frustration at the delay in getting an apprenticeship for urban driving up and running, despite the current significant skills shortage.

Jim French, co-chair of the transport and logistics trailblazer group, said a delay by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) in making a decision on the urban driver category C HGV driver apprenticeship was heaping more damage on the perception of the industry.

The group has recently been successful in getting approval for a one year, level 3 transport and warehouse operations supervisor apprenticeship and this followed a new HGV driver category C+E apprenticeship, approved earlier this year.

In a letter to IATE chief operating officer Robert Nitsch, French said the trailblazer group had been under the impression in December 2020 that approval for its urban driver apprenticeship was imminent.

But eight months later, it was still pressing for confirmation.

The letter said: “My understanding is that the Institute may have concerns over the number of apprenticeships and the overlap between different apprenticeships.

“However, I believe we have clearly proven the differences between the HGV Driver Cat C+E apprenticeship and the urban driver.

“Nevertheless, I would question this necessity. Surely the needs of the logistics industry, the wishes of employers and the security of supply chains in the UK economy must take preference?”

French added that the sector had contributed more than £600m in apprenticeship levy payments and yet it had only recovered around £120m in funding: “There is therefore little wonder why employers believe that the levy is just another tax and that these continual delays and deferments are to prevent them recovering their levy payments,” the letter said.

French told that he had received an email from the IATE saying it was unable to make a decision about the apprenticeship: “despite the fact you can’t buy a milkshake in McDonalds,” he added.

The IATE was unable to respond as we went to press.