Drivers face new challenges in era of change by David Coombes MD, Skills for Logistics

We’re now two years into the Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship, and while we are seeing increasing uptake month on month it is still only scratching the surface in addressing the continuing driver shortage.

The UK is experiencing change at a rapid pace with growing legislation to help make cities cleaner, quieter and safer for the millions who live and work in them. Vehicle operators are under increasing pressure to ensure that their businesses are well prepared for the future to deal with clean air and low emission zones, restricted access and ultimately sustainable transport solutions.

With the dramatic growth of online shopping and the use of mobile IT equipment, the occupation has evolved into express delivery services. With the use of world-class equipment and software, drivers can now provide timed deliveries and collections to all.

They must provide a high level of customer service and carry a lot of responsibility for their working day and delivery routes. They may be on foot using trolleys or required to use a vehicle such as a pushbike, motorbike, van or lorry, which are all factors to consider. They must maintain excellent communication throughout the delivery chain from collection to delivery point and deal correctly with failed deliveries and returns.

In this city-centric environment we know that the professional driver will have to adapt faster than ever to diesel alternatives,  understanding electric power train driving techniques, and finding the increased awareness needed to cope with ever more urban congestion.

An urban commercial apprenticeship standard with a category C license attached,  developing the knowledge skills and behaviours to deal with the demands of driving in the 2020s and beyond, seems like a very much needed and attractive  proposition.

All apprentices will be required to gain and maintain all of the knowledge set out in this new standard, irrespective of their current or initial job role and duties, and that is particularly appealing.

From my regular dialogue with express delivery operators there is a high degree of interest in a specific ‘urban’ driving standard, so the potential numbers are there.