Haulage companies should be given government grants to help meet the cost of getting new truck drivers licensed and qualified, according to a group of industry leaders.
The call came after a meeting involving eight members of staff from the Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association, who spoke to senior policy officials from the Treasury and Department for Transport ahead of the March 18th Budget.
A Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) is needed to become a professional bus, coach or lorry driver, while keeping hold of the certificate requires 35 hours of periodic training every five years.
The introduction of DCPC has had an impact on the number of lorry drivers in the UK, with the shortfall currently standing at around 45,000. Operators are struggling to fill vacant positions, due in part to the cost involved in training drivers to the necessary standard.
With that in mind, representatives from the two trade associations issued a joint statement in which they argued that grants to hauliers would have a "fast and beneficial effect" on the number of drivers trained.
During the meeting, Treasury officials were told that the road transport industry is facing an "unprecedented situation" with the shortage of drivers, and that an urgent government cash injection is required to minimise the impact on the economy.
"We set out a framework for how these systems would work. They would be nationwide, straightforward, accessible and time-limited in view of discussions between the industry and government over apprenticeship funding from 2017," the statement explained.
Attendees of the meeting also discussed the possibility of introducing a student loan-style arrangement in the long term.
"In the meantime, the chancellor has an opportunity in his budget to reverse a damaging driver shortage and help drive positive change in the industry," the statement added.
Posted on 28th February 2015
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