Logistics company Whistl is planning to train 100 recruits in the first year of its newly launched Whistl Driver Academy and is offering a bonus of £1,000 to  qualified HGV drivers who join the company.

The academy has been structured to appeal to new people entering the industry, including long term unemployed, young, or female applicants who have not considered a career as an HGV driver due to the cost of qualifications, typically £7,000, or the work life balance.

Its first cohort of 100 newly qualified drivers will be set to work in the Bristol, Bolton and Beford areas.

As the UK driver shortage continues, Whistl, which operates a fleet of over 500 vehicles, has launched a number of initiatives to help it plug the gap.

These include offering a £1,000 signing on bonus for qualified Class 1 drivers, providing HGV Apprenticeships to anyone over 18 with a driving licence, and offering to train its warehouse workers and van drivers.

Whistl is also offering to pay for Class 1 training for those who already have a Class 2 licence and to pay CPC costs for those who are HGV 1 Classified.

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The company said the terms and conditions it offers drivers are industry leading, with no overnights stays and no multi-pick up and drop offs, a range of shifts, including full time and part time, and very little manual handling.

Nick Wells, Whistl CEO, said: “It is important that we invest in the next generation of HGV drivers, and we are delighted to open the Whistl Driver Academy for people who may not have considered this career choice.

“We must widen our pool of talent and easing the opportunity to work in this sector for the long term unemployed, young, or female applicants who may have been put off by the costs of training or the work life balance.

“We are a people business and the role our drivers play as ambassadors for the company is very important.”