Road to Logistics training

There are currently over three million vacant truck driver positions across the globe, forecast by the IRU to double by 2028 unless there is “significant action” to attract and retain drivers.

National training programme Road to Logistics (RTL) told The Loadstar how it planned to do that.  

RTL aims to encourage new talent into the transport and logistics industry, particularly from young and minority groups. Director Jennifer Swain told The Loadstar one of the main factors contributing to the driver shortage was the perceived lack of work/life balance. 

“People that don’t work in logistics think lorry driving is very much about being away in your truck five nights a week, and actually, that’s a very small percentage of the jobs available – there’s a huge diversity in the range of jobs,” she said.  

One of the ways RTL is combatting this is by educating logistics companies on the benefits of being flexible, and helping them adopt an approach that can attract a more diverse workforce. 

“If you experience talent shortage, but you’re offering 12-hour four on-four off shifts, then it’s no wonder you’re going to struggle to recruit, because you’re only going to appeal to a very small percentage of the population. 

“Obviously there are some types of driving where flexibility is difficult because it involves long distance, but companies can, and should, identify where to make small changes.  It sounds like it should be easy to offer school time shifts and so on, but this is more within warehousing than driving… I want to try and get people to think about how they can adapt, rather than shrugging it off as an unattainable goal.” 

Ms Swain added that this would allow those such as single parents to work school-time shift patterns and still be there for the school run. 

Jennifer Swain, director at Road to Logistics

The next step, she said, would be to go outside the industry and educate people “on the accessibility issues they think may exist, but don’t”.  

RTL finds new talent from outside the industry through the prison service, organisations like Mencap, charities that support people with neurodiversity, forums that support single parents, via social media and job boards. 

Ms Swain told The Loadstar RTL wanted to improve diversity in the industry by reaching women, black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and young people. 

“The main areas we support are ex-offenders, veterans, long-term unemployed, carers, single parents and people with neurodiversity,” she said. 

“We trained one guy, a single dad, who two weeks ago had to sell his television to put food on the table for his family. Then, on Monday, he started a new job on close to £40,000 a year. So, it’s life-changing stuff.” 

RTL also offers trainees not just practical training, but days of “industry education”, where they take modules such as regulation training, risk awareness, health and safety and how to budget their salaries.  

A Road to Logistics trainee

High training, licence and insurance costs can also make it expensive to become a truck driver, which can be off-putting for young or marginalised people. In France, for example, the average cost to obtain a truck driver licence and certificate of professional competence is more than three times the minimum monthly wage, at €5,250 ($5,745).   

“These are people that have been really struggling… they’d never ever in a million years be able to afford the £3,000 it costs to fund the licence for themselves. But we’re not giving people handouts, we’re giving them the tools to empower themselves and to make a difference to their lives. We’re just providing them with the stepping stone,” said Ms Swain.

However, she added: “The problem we face is that it’s not cheap to train someone to drive a lorry.”  

RTL is a non-profit organisation and funds those looking to get into truck driving through the Department for Education’s shared prosperity fund.  

But Ms Swain told The Loadstar: “As we grow, it’s becoming more and more difficult to meet our overheads as a not-for-profit. We use quite a lot of subcontractors to deliver the practical training, so we only actually ever see a very small percentage of the funding we bid for.” 

Road to Logistics has recently set up a Go Fund Me page to support the work they do.

Ms Swain said: “We are making a difference. We are providing this great new stream of drivers that are fully qualified, but we’re also really helping people in the UK – to take people either off benefits or stop that cycle of re-offending, which we’re doing very effectively, saving the taxpayer millions of pounds.”  

To date, RTL has trained more than 400 people, of which over 84% are in permanent employment as HGV drivers. 

Check out this clip from today’s podcast on how Brexit changed UK distribution strategies

Speaker: Dionne Redpath, Group COO, Europa Worldwide Group

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