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Councillors concerned by amount of HGV training graduates finding employment

Councillors in Northern Ireland have expressed their concern over the relatively low percentage of graduates from a HGV training scheme that have found employment after gaining their licences.

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Following the peak of the driver shortage in autumn 2021, many schemes funded by the UK Government and local authorities popped up in order to attract more prospective HGV drivers.

The schemes sought to fund or subsidise HGV training and exam costs, reducing barriers and thus drawing more people into the industry.

In general, the schemes do seem to have had a modest but noticeable impact on the UK driver shortage, which as alleviated slightly in the last 12-18 months.

However, in some areas of Northern Ireland at least, there has been concern about the low percentage of graduates from such schemes that end up netting driving jobs.

It isn’t clear what the reasons for this are, though a downturn in demand and hauliers apprehensive about employing inexperienced drivers are two factors that naturally spring to mind.

According to a report by Northern Ireland World, a scheme that allowed 80 participants to train for and pass a HGV licence test, as well as be put forward for an interview with a local haulier, has only resulted in 6 persons gaining employment. This is despite 34 persons having already earned their licences through the scheme.

In reaction to the news, UUP Councillor Kyle Savage, of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, is quoted as saying:

“This is a concern, if we are going to open another programme is there still demand for this out there? 34 people have passed the practical and only six have gained employment. Those figures would suggest there is not the demand for these employees in the wider sector.”

Councillors are also wondering whether the it is best to scrap the condition to be unemployed in order to qualify for the funded training.

DUP group leader Alderman Mark Baxter told Northern Ireland World:

“None of them were unemployed but they wanted to upskill in their own job or to try and move on and improve. I think those folk have probably missed out and would have been ideal candidates for that sort of upskilling as they couldn’t have afforded to do it themselves. Do we have any control over the access to the scheme or is this something we need to look at again and tweak and put the money into something else where there could be more positive outcomes?”

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