Warning To Cumbrian Transport Businesses To Use or Lose Levy Funding

SP Training is reminding Cumbrian businesses with a road transport fleet to ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to accessing the funds they’ve paid into the government’s levy scheme to help address the national commercial driver shortage.

After running for 24 months, money paid into the levy by individual businesses will now start to roll out of the funding pot. This means that levy-paying employers are already seeing their funding expire without benefit and Carlisle-based SP Training is urging companies to use the funds to help combat the shortage of professional drivers.

SP Training has helped many local and national businesses use levy funding to run professional driver programmes, creating their own bespoke drivers using the Large Goods Vehicle apprenticeship standards.

Larger companies that pay into the levy can train people of all ages to become commercial drivers and gain their truck licence – many have used that route to take on new employees or create a career pathway for current non-driving warehouse and operations staff.

The incentive is also high for small businesses which don’t pay into the levy pot, they just need to fund 5% of the apprenticeship fees, recently reduced from 10% by the government.

SP Training has already operated bespoke professional driver programmes for the likes of Stobart Group, Wm Armstrong and Stalkers Transport and has recently started training over 100 new drivers for ASDA and Clipper Logistics, completely funded using the levy pot. In addition to creating new, highly-skilled drivers with goods vehicle licences, the programme also allows employers to reduce agency costs, enhance continuity of customer service and deliver a long-term solution to the nationwide driver shortage.

Using its extensive experience and proven, employer-friendly model, SP Training has front-loaded much of the more critical skills, behaviour and knowledge, allowing trainees to obtain their truck licence within eight to ten weeks and becoming productive for their business.

Each programme is bespoke to the individual business needs, creating a model, high-performing driver for each company, with training modules designed in close cooperation with employers. It allows companies to recruit both internally and externally with a structured programme to fund the training of drivers through a long-term solution.

Historical data also shows that retention of trainees on an apprenticeship programme is among the highest in the industry, driven by investment, inclusive support within the business and high performance.

Tony Higgins, SP Training managing director, said: “There is no doubting that training new professional drivers using the funded apprenticeship programme is the most cost-effective, efficient and long-term solution to the ongoing driver shortage and many large businesses are waking up to that solution. From the end of May, levy paying companies will start to lose their funding if they don’t use it, so we’ve seen more focus on transforming the levy funding into tangible professional programmes creating new, highly-skilled drivers.”

Geof Armstrong, Wm Armstrong director, said: “Using the apprenticeship levy to create new drivers is an important strand of our long-term skills strategy and helps Wm Armstrong efficiently recruit new drivers. Working with SP Training, the funded programme allows us to create employees with the optimum skills to complement our services and with aspirations for long-term career progression within the company.”

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