Sector-based Work Academy Programme in the West Midlands - what our learners have to say

We have launched a number of sector-based work academy programmes within the West Midlands area, via funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), for the local community to learn new skills and retrain as a key worker with a career in logistics. Our Birmingham SWAP upskills individuals as light and heavy goods vehicle drivers, with everyone who completes the course guaranteed an interview with a local logistics employer such as Eddie Stobart and XPO Logistics.

Ryan Szlafke, one of the adults on the training programme, had been a van driver for 15 years but was made redundant due to the pandemic. He said:

"It has not been easy this last year to gain any qualifications due to the lockdowns but System Group have got me to this point and I am grateful to them for their perseverance. Its been a long journey since being made redundant but hopefully this is just the beginning of a new career for me and the support I am able to provide for my family."

We asked Ryan:

What were you doing before studying with System Group:

"I was working as a warehouse operative then as a Van Driver since left school, 15 years as a driver then I was made redundant due to covid, wanted to achieve HGV licence promoted through DWP.
I started practical training this week and have test booked for Wednesday 26th May. I'm really looking for a career in HGV, ideally with Eddie Stobart. My wife is at university studying nursing we have three children as its important we show our children than no matter what obstacles you get in life you can always achieve your dreams."

Why did you choose to enrol on this course:

"I had been looking to gain my HGV licence for a while but time and money were holding me back. Last year I was made redundant due to covid so I decided to look into gaining my HGV licence again as I had the time to get it done and was presented with this opportunity through the job centre."

What are your plans after completing your course:

"After completing this course I will look to gain employment as a Class 2 driver and I would like to gain my Class 1 licence co-funded through DWP with employment opportunity with Eddie Stobart."


Single parent Lucretia Fearon joined the course after being furloughed from her previous job as a youth mentor in schools. She said:

“I decided to explore my options looking for long-term employment that would offer flexibility around my needs as a mother. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and on the road.”

We asked Lucretia:

What were you doing before studying with System Group:

"Prior to undertaking the course I have been working as a youth mentor within secondary schools supporting a variety of young people overcome challenges within their life such as gang related violence, self-harming, eating disorders, learning difficulties and bullying. For me it was paramount that I was able to understand these learners and the obstacles they faced to offer support to help them overcome these.
I was then on maternity leave during lockdown then was furloughed due to the pandemic. As a single parent I found this very difficult and started to explore my options looking for sustainable employment that would offer longevity and the flexibility around my needs as a mother."

Why did you choose to enrol on this course:

"After some research and discussion with my work coach at DWP I was offered the opportunity to study to complete my HGV C+E licence. I was told the training would be provided by System Group with employment opportunities with Eddie Stobart.
I discussed this in detail with Jake and he advised me of the employment opportunities and the qualifications I could gain. Advising me of the skills shortage within this industry and the sustainability of employment within logistics.
I decided to enrol on this course to ensure career security for myself and to provide for my family.
Since enrolling I am currently completing my three weeks theory training which I am finding very information and educational and I cant wait to get behind the wheel and get on the road."

What are your plans after completing your course:

"Once I have completed this course I hope to progress to employment with Eddie Stobart, to secure myself and my family a happy future that works both for my personal career needs and progression and also my life as a parent. Being a woman in logistics excites me to break the “norm” and be proud of what I have achieved.
Doing it for the women in logistics."

We have a number of SWAP's across the UK in partnership with leading logistic employers. Contact us today to find out the fully-funded programmes in your area:

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