The Government is finding training for up to 4,000 people to become HGV drivers, as part of a package of measures announced to try and ease supply chain pressures in the food industry.
The Department for Education said it would spend £10 million to train more people to become HGV drivers. The free, short, intensive courses will train drivers to gain a category C or category C&E licence, helping to tackle the current HGV driver shortage.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has also agreed to work with Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) to ensure that tests will be available for participants who have completed training courses as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is also announcing the immediate deployment of itsDefence Driving Examiners (DDEs) to increase the country’s testing capacity. MOD examiners will work alongside DVSA examiners, providing extra tests over the next 12 weeks.
Alongside this, the Government has bowed to the industry’s calls for a temporary visa, and up to 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry. A further 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be made available for the same short period.
Recruitment for additional short-term HGV drivers and poultry workers will begin in October and these visas will be valid until 24 December 2021. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are preparing to process the required visa applications, once made, in a timely manner.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are acting now but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.
“After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”