Photo credits @ XPO

XPO launches truck driver academy for women

XPO Logistics, a major European logistics provider, has launched a Female Driver Academy aimed at increasing the number of women in the haulage industry. The 12-16 week programme will provide training, using XPO's internal driver training team, to develop skilled female HGV drivers.

You can read this article in 3 minutes

The academy, which began its first assessment days in May, offers paid employment to candidates from day one, enabling them to earn a living while training. XPO customer Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland has partnered with the initiative, offering roles within their British Gypsum and PAM operations upon completion of the training.

The first cohort of drivers is expected to be fully qualified by August this year. Three of the initial candidates have expressed their enthusiasm for the programme, highlighting the support provided by XPO and the opportunity to pursue a “dream career”.

Steph, a current DAF commercial vehicle parts delivery driver, aims to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and continue a family tradition of HGV driving. Casey, a former XPO warehouse worker and apprentice tattoo artist, is fulfilling a childhood dream inspired by her HGV driver father. Philippa, with prior experience in the logistics industry and a passion for people, sees the academy as a vital support network for entering this male-dominated profession.

The XPO Female Driver Academy is part of the company’s wider Driver Excellence Academy, open to all individuals over 18 who aspire to become HGV drivers. The academy offers a pathway to obtaining the relevant qualifications for various vehicle types, including upskilling a standard car licence to a rigid or articulated lorry licence.

Women make up 4% of lorry drivers, face significant pay gap

XPO’s initiative comes at a time when the haulage industry is grappling with a significant driver shortage. According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), only 4% of European truck drivers are women. In the UK, this figure is even lower, hovering around 1%. The reasons for this disparity are multifaceted, including concerns about safety, working conditions, and a lack of female role models.

Initiatives to address this imbalance are emerging globally. In 2023, Danish haulier Baton Transport began recruiting and training women in India to drive HGVs first in Hungary, then in Europe. In Wales, the government-funded Personal Learning Account program has successfully trained 19 women to become HGV drivers, highlighting the potential for targeted funding to improve diversity in the sector.

However, challenges persist. A 2022 study in Sweden revealed that despite overall wage increases in the haulage sector, the gender pay gap for HGV drivers has doubled over the past seven years. This underlines the need for ongoing efforts to ensure equal pay and opportunities for women in the industry.