This year we’ve seen numerous changes to driving apprenticeships in response to some of the challenges currently facing the logistics industry, including an ageing workforce and a nationwide driver shortage that is already causing severe disruption to supply chains.
Recognising the importance of attracting new talent into the industry, and delivering the skilled workforce employers so desperately need, the Institute for Apprenticeships has now approved updates to the LGV Driver apprenticeship standard, and a new Urban Driver apprenticeship is also in development. This new standard is expected to be available for delivery by November this year.
We spoke to Martin Sheppard, Quality Lead at Seetec Outsource and a member of the logistics trailblazer group, about the two driving apprenticeships that will soon be available, how they differ, and how they can support employers to invest in homegrown talent to fill their skills gaps.
There’s already an LGV Driver apprenticeship standard. Why is the new Urban Driver standard needed?
The original LGV Driver apprenticeship was aimed at all types of large goods vehicle drivers and included provision for apprentices to gain a CAT C licence, enabling them to drive rigid vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
This was a great selling point for employers, who could now fund driver training through their apprenticeship levy. It also appealed to apprentices, who might otherwise have struggled to fund the cost of a licence themselves. However, it did not address a growing need for Class 1 HGV drivers who also require a CAT C+E licence in order to drive larger, articulated lorries.
Recent updates to the LGV driver standard mean the apprenticeship now includes provision for learners to gain both the CAT C and CAT C+E licence, with an increase in the funding band to meet additional training costs.
However, not all employers need or want to train Class 1 drivers, so the new Urban Driver standard, which only includes the CAT C licence, addresses the gap that has been left.
What are the main differences between the two driving apprenticeships?
Both the LGV Driver and Urban Driver apprenticeships are set at level 2, however there are some key differences in the types of occupations they are suited to.
LGV drivers typically operate a point-to-point service, driving a much higher mileage and using articulated lorries. For this they will need a Class 1 licence.
Urban drivers will gain a Class 2 licence in order to operate rigid vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, but not exceeding 32 tonnes. They will often serve multiple customers each day in congested areas and may need to provide specialist on-site services and technical support for the goods they deliver.
Who covers the cost of training?
Both of these apprenticeships – including the driver CPC training element and licence costs – will be funded via your organisation’s apprenticeship levy if you already pay into this, so you won’t need a separate training budget.
If you are a smaller organisation, 95% of the cost of training and assessment will be covered by Government co-investment, and you’ll only need to contribute the remaining 5%.
How long does each apprenticeship last?
The updated LGV Driver apprenticeship lasts around 13 months, although the programme can be delivered in about 12. Apprentices then move into the end-point assessment period, which lasts another 3 months.
The Urban Driver standard is still in development but is likely to take about the same length of time to complete.
Does this mean it will be a full year before apprentices can take on driving duties?
Not at all. Apprentices can begin their driver CPC training from day one, completing their theory test, hazard perception and case studies within the first three months. This means that they can sit the practical test for the CAT C licence in month 4 and assume full driving duties once they’ve passed.
Apprentices on the LGV driver apprenticeship who are working towards the dual licence will then be able to focus on gaining practical driving experience in months 4-7. They should be able to sit their CAT C+E practical test in month 7, enabling them take on duties that require the use of larger, articulated vehicles. However, the recent news that Government wants to fast-track tests for new drivers, combining tests for both the CAT C and C+E licences, means that this could happen even sooner.
Don’t forget that employees will be learning the ropes and building their knowledge of your business from day one. They will have the opportunity to shadow colleagues and gain valuable experience that will enable them to work independently and in line with organisational goals and values as soon as they’re out on the road.
What’s to stop apprentices seeking opportunities elsewhere once they have their licence?
Apprenticeships are about much more than gaining a licence, and all of the employers we work with have excellent retention rates both during and on completion of the programme.
We find that apprenticeships can be very motivating for our learners, who often demonstrate greater loyalty and commitment to their employer in return for the investment in their career development. As they progress on programme, and take on additional duties and responsibilities, they can be awarded incremental pay increases for achieving specific milestones.
Apprenticeships aren’t just for new recruits either. You might choose to upskill existing employees who are already working in warehousing or office roles but want to pursue a driving career. These employees already know and understand your business and will welcome the progression opportunities you make available to them. You can also use apprenticeships to backfill any roles left vacant when they start to take on driving duties.
The nationwide driver shortage has made recruitment challenging. How can we attract the right people into these roles?
The driver shortage has highlighted a need to draw from a much wider talent pool in order to fill driving roles. This means attracting a more diverse range of candidates, including younger apprentices and women, who currently only make up around 1% of lorry drivers in the UK.
We already support a number of employers to attract and retain female LGV apprentices, and the Urban Driver apprenticeship – which typically involves flexible shift patterns and less overnight routes – could prove more attractive to both women and men with childcare or other responsibilities.
Many good apprenticeship training providers can also offer a recruitment service – free of charge – to help you find the right candidates to fill driving roles, with vacancies advertised through the Government Find an Apprenticeship service as well as other recruitment platforms.
At Seetec Outsource our recruitment service includes advertising and promoting vacancies, screening and shortlisting candidates, and facilitating interviews and assessment centres. This helps to ease the burden of recruitment while giving you access to candidates who best meet your criteria.
For more information about the Urban Driver and LGV Driver apprenticeship standards, and to discuss the most appropriate driver training for your business, please contact our employer services team on 0800 3891 999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.