Transervice Express

Transervice Express Transport has joined forces with RHA and Jobcentre Plus to help roll out a nationwide work experience scheme aimed at tackling the driver shortage crisis.

The West Bromwich-based company will offer a rolling programme of onsite training to job seekers on the work experience programme. It also plans to offer its training facilities to other hauliers in the region who sign up to the work experience scheme.

The scheme, dubbed Driving Britain’s Future, was launched nationally by the RHA and Jobcentre Plus last month, following a successful trial. The trial saw 20 job seekers spend two weeks with RHA members in the Eastleigh, Portsmouth and Southampton areas, where they were given first-hand experience of the haulage industry.

Speaking to, Transervice Express Transport MD Paul Johnson said: “We have developed training facilities on site which can be used for onsite training for those on the JobCentre Plus scheme and the RHA are very keen to do something with us.”

Johnson said the company is currently putting together a programme which will give job seekers experience across the board, including warehousing, pick and pack, dispatch and the traffic office. The trainees will also spend time on the road with the firm’s drivers.

He added: “It means we can train on location and really show them how the business operates rather than them training off site somewhere.”

Apprenticeship levy "not the answer"

However Johnson said the work experience scheme was not enough to tackle the driver crisis, adding that he is “extremely disappointed” in the government’s failure to back the RHA’s calls for an HGV driver training fund.

“It’s frustrating that the government  just doesn’t see the problem. The driver shortage is the industry’s biggest challenge. An Apprenticeship levy [revealed to be on its way for larger employers by the chancellor in the Emergency Budget) is not the answer," he said.

He warned that driver shortage was restricting expansion in the industry.”Everyone  is struggling, no matter what sector. We had to turn down the chance to quote for five contract vehicles after Christmas. And the situation hasn’t changed. At this moment I don’t know where we would find five qualified drivers to do that.

"Right now if someone offered me a nice contract that needed 10 drivers, I’d run a mile.”

Johnson also called on the pallet networks to do more to tackle the problem. “It is up to the industry to do something. At the moment most pallet networks turn a blind eye. They don’t see it as their issue. But they will have to deal with it sooner or later as members won’t be able to take up the capacity offered.”

Flexible insurance terms for new drivers

Transervice Express Transport is working with RHA-approved insurance broker Towergate to persuade insurance companies to offer more flexible insurance terms for new drivers. Towergate is in talks with a number of larger insurance companies about creating policies which would cover new drivers working under controlled conditions.

Johnson said: “We want insurers insurers to work with us and offer more flexible terms on the understanding that drivers work under controlled conditions doing local pallet deliveries for example - so nothing too difficult.

“We are quite hopeful some of the bigger insurers may be willing to work with us, as a client which can carefully manage its drivers and has a good history.”