Three apprentices have managed to reskill for a career on the open road thanks to Breedon’s Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeships are open to individuals of all ages, and can be a great way to retrain in a new industry. The LGV driver apprenticeship also includes funding for learners to gain their Category C licence in order to drive commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

Brad, Nigel and Robbie all completed the apprenticeship with their employer Breedon, a construction materials group that produces cement, aggregates, asphalt, ready-mixed concrete, Welsh slate and specialist concrete and clay products, and offers a range of contracting services.

Breedon employs around 40 apprentices across the group, many of whom are completing the LGV driver apprenticeship. The comprehensive training they receive on programme means that no previous experience is needed, and apprentices come from wide range of backgrounds.

Brad Gunby, 22, Leeds Concrete Plant

Brad, 22, from Leeds, was looking for a change from his customer service job at a large retail store. He had wanted to find a job in transport for some time as his family works in the industry, and was delighted when the apprenticeship opportunity with Breedon came up in April 2019.

Brad worked throughout the pandemic, apart from a brief period of furlough, and was supported by his employer and Seetec Outsource so that he could continue learning and sit his end-point assessment as soon as returned.

Brad has now successfully completed his apprenticeship and is employed full time as an HGV driver based at Leeds Concrete Plant, part of Breedon. He thinks others should consider HGV driving as a career path. For anyone considering a change of career he says: “Go for it. It’s been a journey to get a licence but it opens up a lot of opportunities.”

Nigel Bennett, 42, Leaton Quarry Telford

Mixer driver Nigel Bennett is an example of how switching career through an apprenticeship can happen at any age. He was looking for a change from his job of 15 years as a manager at a special needs care home.

At the age of 40 Nigel started his LGV driver apprenticeship with Breedon. People around him were surprised that he had chosen to change career at his age, but they soon realised it was a great opportunity.

Nigel has now successfully completed the programme and works full time as a mixer truck driver at Leaton Quarry in Telford, part of Breedon Group. He feels fortunate to have found the apprenticeship, and says he was well supported by his employer and by Seetec Outsource.

Encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, he says: “It’s the best thing I’ve done. My friends were surprised I was doing an apprenticeship and a well-paid apprenticeship at that – now they are all interested. It took a lot of courage to leave the job I had been doing for 15 years without a job to go to. I was fortunate to find this apprenticeship.”

Robbie Parr, 22, Norton Bottoms Quarry near Lincoln

Robbie, 22, from Newark, swapped his office job in telecoms for the LGV driver apprenticeship with Breedon in April 2019. He didn’t enjoy sitting down at a desk all day, and wanted a job that would get him out of the office more.

Apart from a brief period of furlough, Robbie has continued working and learning throughout the pandemic. He was given the freedom to manage his day so that he could get on with coursework when he needed to, or sit with someone to do training when it was convenient.

Like Brad and Nigel, Robbie completed his apprenticeship in July 2020. He is now employed full time as an LGV driver at Norton Bottoms Quarry, also part of Breedon.

Robbie encourages others to take the leap and start an apprenticeship in LGV: “I would say absolutely go for it, because it’s a win win really. You get your licence paid for and you get the experience which is really hard to come by. It saves you a lot of money and saves you the hassle of trying to find a job with no experience.”

A career for people of all ages

Based at Breedon’s head office in Derby, Stewart Hook is responsible for helping and supporting apprentices during their apprenticeship at Breedon, alongside Seetec Outsource.

Stewart feels apprenticeships are the way forward for growing new talent, particularly in the extractives industry which has an ageing workforce. Apprenticeships enable the business to market itself to younger people who may not know what Breedon does, and can offer them employment opportunities in a relatively stable environment.

Stewart also thinks businesses should consider taking on apprentices of all ages, opening up a wider pool of talent:

“In the past an apprentice has been seen as a junior, somebody straight out of school. This is the traditional view of an apprentice.

“As the government is opening up apprenticeships across all levels of learning, from level 1 to level 7, an apprenticeship now has a different meaning. Businesses are still getting to grips with that. It’s about changing the mindset of the marketplace and showing that it is about learning new skills.”

Nikki Bardsley, Director of Apprenticeship Operations at Seetec Outsource, encourages more logistics businesses to consider recruiting apprentices to fill LGV driver roles:

“The UK logistics industry is facing a significant driver shortage, and will need to attract and retain individuals of all ages, and from a wide range of backgrounds, to keep businesses moving.

“The LGV driver apprenticeship programme can be used to train new recruits, or even existing staff who want to move out of an office- or warehouse- based role, and support can also be given to backfill those vacancies through apprenticeships.”

Find out more about the LGV Driver apprenticeship here.