The driver shortage crisis is one the industry cannot afford to ignore. The solution has to be driven by improving the image of professional driving as a career, making the financial investment of training more bearable for new drivers, ensuring new drivers receive additional training to improve road safety and thereby reduce concerns about employing new pass drivers, and supporting new drivers into work.
At System Group, we have been working on initiatives and new programmes that help combat the problem. We spoke with clients who had been experiencing problems with recruitment and discussed reservations they had about employing new pass drivers. We spoke to potential candidates about barriers they had come up against when they wanted to enter the industry. And we spoke to people who hadn’t considered professional driving as a career to find out what would make the industry more attractive to them.
The Driving Ambition programme was the result of that research. The programme is a transparently straightforward package that includes:
Cat C training & test
Cat C+E training & test
Reversing & banksman training
Coupling & uncoupling training
The programme is not prohibitively expensive, finance options are available to open up the training to as many as possible, and training is delivered flexibly to work around candidates’ schedules.
We also offer our employer clients options to make the process fit their business needs. Simply Hire is an option that involves recruitment of our fully insured academy drivers where we employ them for the first six months, after which they can be taken on permanently by the client employer. The Enhanced Experience is offered to clients who want to be involved from the start of the recruitment process and candidates for the programme are attached to that client from day one, knowing who they will be going to work for and able to learn about the brand and the company form the start.
The programme has been piloted very successfully in Liverpool with 134 candidates going through the programme. The new drivers can choose to find their own work at the end of the programme, as many undertake the training with prospects already lined up for work, or remain with us as academy drivers. The programme has been successful with 40 becoming academy drivers.
One client employer who has benefited from the programme is B&M Retail. They operate out of two large distribution centres near System Group’s Training & Test Centre in Widnes. B&M were involved with the selection process and attended our Widnes facility throughout the training and testing program to maintain academy driver engagement. A detailed on-boarding and mentoring programme was designed and the Academy drivers attended the site for a full induction once they passed their CAT C licence.
“Together with our partner, System Group, we have created a tailored induction and training programme to ensure our new drivers get the best start and gain the skills they need to be workplace ready. We have already successfully inducted 35 Academy drivers into our business and all are going through our training program with further intakes planned.” said Mike Benson, Distribution Director for B&M Retail.
The programme has been introduced in Carlisle and there has been a lot of interest and System Group doesn’t intend to stop there.
“We know that this programme works and we want to open it up to as many as possible,” states Adrian Daulby, System Group’s Driving Ambition Director. “This is a national solution to a national problem and we’re looking forward to bringing it to more locations over the coming year.”