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Use apprenticeship cash to fund driver training, fleets urged

Fleets should use funds from the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy to provide driver training, keeping young workers safer and potentially saving lives.  

IAM says apprenticeship training is an ideal opportunity to ensure young people gain safer driving skills, bringing personal and business benefits as well as supporting road safety

One in three road collisions involve someone driving in the course of work and it’s also a well-known fact that young drivers are the most at risk group on our roads.

As such, IAM RoadSmart says providing driver training to all apprentices who will be using a vehicle in the course of their work has the potential to make a huge contribution to road safety.

And it adds that the apprenticeship training is an ideal way to provide this.

Since the Levy was introduced in 2017, latest government figures show it has directly supported 312,900 people to start their apprenticeship journey. Last week also saw the Government announce that employers of all sizes can apply for a cash boost (of up to £2,000 per apprentice under 25) to help them take on new apprentices and get more people into work.

Not only is IAM RoadSmart encouraging businesses to get on board and make sure driver training is a part of apprenticeship development, but its interim CEO Tony Greenidge has also written to the chancellor urging the Government to consider making it clearer that corporate driver training is included in the list of training activities that can be funded from the levy.

The road safety organisation said this would bring three key benefits, including ensuring businesses are able to make best use of their annual levy contribution, providing both business and social benefits.

It would also allow employers to implement the minimum driving for work requirements, as set out in current Health & Safety legislation; helping to contribute to a reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on UK roads.

And with many businesses under pressure to survive, upskilling apprentices would help them optimise the efficiency of their labour force.

In addition, it would also bring benefits from the environment; safer and more economic driving is proven to reduce fuel use by up to 10%.

Greenidge elaborated: “Providing driver training to all apprentices who will be using a vehicle in the course of their work has the potential to make a huge contribution to road safety. For a minimum investment formal driver training is a valuable additional skill that will enhance their working life and bolster their CV at a time when employment prospects for young people are expected to be particularly tough.

“Around 90% of all collisions are caused by human error and typically one in four fleet vehicles is affected each year. With costs averaging £1,700 per incident there are real financial and operational benefits for businesses, the Government and the general public.

“It is well-known that young drivers are the most at risk group on our roads. Improved driving skills and a safer attitude to driving are, we believe, key benefits that will assist young people and help keep them employable in the current economic crisis.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

One Comment

  • Edward Handley08. Sep, 2020

    This is an excellent idea and in theory should provide a boost to driver trainers and the commercial vehicle driver training providers, who have had a terrible time as a result of the lock down. Anyone who thinks Restaurants and Theatres have it tough should try running a driver training organisation when there are no tests available because DVSA retired to their bunker and slammed the door behind them back in March.

    It would be great if funding was made available to train up more truck and bus/coach drivers as there is a desperate shortage, but it is unlikely to achieve anything in the short term because there is no point training drivers if you cannot get a test.

    DVSA need to up their game big time and must recruit more examiners and get a lot more flexible about using commercial premises for testing so they can clear the test back log and do something to improve the supply of drivers. They won’t of course, because the whole driver testing system is to inflexible. At current rates it will probably take 5 to 10 years to clear the backlog, and in the meantime there will be vehicles without drivers and goods undelivered.

    The last time there was a problem we were rescued by a big influx of Eastern European truck drivers, and a good thing we were, but with all the Brexit hooha we are not going to have the same number of qualified drivers queuing up for jobs in the UK.

    If you look on line for a driving test now there is nothing available, not for a car, a truck, a minibus, a car and trailer or whatever. The result is that this years school leavers (the ones who missed their exams and had grades allocated at random) cannot get driving tests. Many who have passed the theory have already run out of time and their theory test certificates have expired, so they have to re-take the theory and hazard perception. Guess what, they can’t get those tests either. So when they apply for apprenticeships which require a driving licence they will be rejected.

    This will mean that apprentice training programmes run light and in a couple of years the number of trained mechanics, gas fitters, electricians, plumbers, etc., will fall off a cliff. All because DVSA cannot get their head around the problem of expanding the testing system to cope with demand.