The theme for National Apprenticeship Week (7th-13th February) is ‘Build the Future’, something which the Urban Driver apprenticeship aims to achieve.
The new apprenticeship standard was finally approved for delivery in December 2021, and apprenticeships and skills expert Seetec Outsource has supported Breedon Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of construction materials, to recruit 30 drivers from across the UK to start the apprenticeship.
The Urban Driver apprenticeship has been designed to help ease the driver shortage and encourage new and younger drivers into the ageing HGV workforce.
An estimated 268,000 people were employed as HGV drivers between July 2020 and June 2021. This is 39,000 fewer than in the previous year and a staggering 53,000 fewer than the peak for HGV driver employment four years ago. *
With yet more set to leave the industry, the Urban Driver apprenticeship is more important than ever, with nearly a quarter of lorry drivers expected to leave the industry in the next three years, according to the largest ever survey of HGV drivers by Pertemps. *
The Urban Driver apprenticeship focuses on short-haul journeys in towns and cities that often do not require overnight routes and it is hoped that this will attract potential candidates who may have steered away from traditional HGV work patterns in the past.
The apprenticeship provides drivers with the opportunity to gain a Class 2 license for vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 32 tonnes in as little as four to six months.
Breedon, which has now taken on its third cohort of driver apprentices, knows the value and flexibility that apprenticeships bring to their workforce.
Kimberley Jamieson, Breedon Urban Driver apprentice, said: “Working in the construction industry was something I wanted to do from the age of 16, however it wasn’t something that was encouraged 15 years ago.
“I have also been interested in driving, and in my previous role as a Prisoner Custody Officer I was transporting prisoners and people in custody dealing with their care, welfare, and security on a day-to-day basis.
“I’d really like to help bring more women into the industry by communicating my positive experience. I feel this apprenticeship is providing me with a great opportunity to learn new skills, and it’s never too late to turn your hand to something new!”
Michael Gaughan is one of Breedon’s four successful drivers who achieved a distinction following the completion of their apprenticeship with Seetec Outsource in 2021. Michael and the rest of his apprentice cohort are now all competent relief drivers based in varying locations.
Michael said: “I like driving and it is a change from where I previously worked in retail management. Driving is providing me with a much-improved work life balance. I am delighted to have achieved a distinction and I am looking forward to the future with Breedon.”
Lloyd DeVal, Director of Sector Skills at Seetec Outsource, added: “Breedon is a great example of a large organisation that has embraced the flexibility and empowerment that apprenticeships bring to the workplace. We work closely with all our employer partners to ensure that apprenticeships are fit for use and are as compatible as possible with the demands of the businesses we support. The Urban Driver apprenticeship clearly demonstrates how apprenticeships are helping to tackle an ageing workforce, the pandemic and changing restrictions following Brexit.”