The Welsh Government has committed to training up to 180 unemployed people to drive lorries in a move that is warmly welcomed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
Jobcentre Plus (JCP) will select candidates in line with a quality-based process, developed with the RHA nationally, to attract people into the industry. Haulage firms across Wales are being urgently contacted by the RHA to sign them up for the scheme following recent warnings consumers could see empty shelves this Christmas because of the chronic lack of truck drivers.
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RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Welsh Government has recognised that road haulage is a service industry that is fundamental to the success of the Welsh economy – and the need for action in the face of a growing driver shortage. Allocations of drivers will be tailored to give a real opportunity to smaller firms – a principle the RHA was keen to stress.”
Martin Brown, Work Services Director, JCP Wales said: “We are really pleased to be working collaboratively with the Welsh Government and the RHA to help people who are unemployed to begin employment in a sector that is critical to growth in the UK.
“This will make a significant impact on the lives of those individuals who successfully pass their HGV test and secure employment and will also make a big difference to haulage companies by supporting the supply of skilled labour.”
The announcement comes during the RHA’s National Lorry Week, which has been designed to promote the industry to the public and to politicians.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James added: “The transport and logistics sector have highlighted a number of issues related to the skills of their workforce, including a deficit in qualified HGV drivers. I am pleased to confirm funding for the LGV Licence pilot, utilising the Welsh Government Work Ready programme as an immediate response to this need while long term solutions are sought.”
The programme will close on the 31st March 2016. Longer term solutions to the skills shortages are being explored with sector representatives and Regional Skills Partnerships across Wales.