UK logistics giant Gist is tackling the ongoing HGV driver shortage with its first cohort of newly qualified drivers delivering product to stores in time for Christmas.
Gist’s in-house HGV driver academy launched last month, and its graduates are already driving across its network, transporting chilled products for its customers including M&S.
Aaron Venables, based at Gist’s Crewe depot, began a career in HGV driving with a Class C licence in 2003 but was yet to obtain his Class C+E licence. He enrolled on the scheme and passed his Class C+E examination on Friday 15 October.
He said: “I have always wanted to get my Class C+E licence but never had the money to put myself through the course, so when the new training and testing centre was announced, my manager signed me up straight away. I thought the course was really good. It had a very relaxed feel to it, with no pressure. My tutor was very knowledgeable and really made me feel at ease.”
The programme, fully-funded by Gist, is open to aspiring HGV drivers who will be trained and examined at the academy in Spalding, Lincolnshire. These drivers will gain their HGV Class C+E licence before driving for one of Gist’s many locations.
“I feel a lot more confident having done the course” adds Venables. “To anyone thinking of becoming an HGV driver, I say go for it. If you love driving, it’s the job for you.”
Gist anticipates its driver training and testing programme will deliver up to 300 newly qualified HGV drivers for the business each year.
Successful applicants will receive competitive pay, with Gist fully funding all training costs and fees associated with obtaining the relevant licences, as well as travel and accommodation costs. The overall support package is expected to save individuals approximately £3,000 when compared to self-funding. Successful applicants will also benefit from Gist’s sign-on and retention bonuses worth up to £5,000, payable over their first 15 months of employment with the company.
Julian Bailey, managing director temperature controlled logistics, Gist, said: “The Government is taking steps to support the industry, which is a welcome move. However, the reality is more still needs to be done and fast. That is why we have launched our in-house accredited training academy so that we can produce home-grown talent and train the next generation of drivers.”