Features & Interviews

Training for the future: Apprenticeships in the road transport industry

15 February 2024 #Features & Interviews

This year National Apprenticeship Week celebrated the contribution that thousands of apprentices make in the UK road transport sector.

Apprenticeships give more people the opportunity to earn while they learn and begin a satisfying career, and they also help to deliver the highly skilled workforce employers very much require.

According to the latest SMMT data, Britain’s automotive sector alone has some 5,000 apprentices, with the number of new starters up 42.3% in 2023. Significantly, one in four of the current apprentice cohort are upskilling, reflecting employers’ need for new skills as the use of zero emission and automated technology increasingly becomes the norm.

Apprenticeships are also valuable for employers to train and develop staff efficiently, ensuring they are fully prepared for working in the business via hands-on work experience and off-the-job training.

Leyland Trucks is recruiting 28 new apprentices across the business in roles ranging from engineering and operations to project management and administration roles, including degree level apprenticeships.

The apprenticeships will be delivered in partnership with Preston College, Blackpool and The Fylde College, UCLan, Training 2000, and Runshaw College, and applicants will earn while they are supported in their learning at Leyland Trucks and at college.

Maria Rogers, Learning and Development Manager at Leyland Trucks, said: “We’re recruiting people into roles that will ultimately drive our growth and ensure continuity of skills as colleagues who have chosen to dedicate their careers to Leyland Trucks hang up their hats and retire.

“You’ll find past and present apprentices right across the business, including senior positions – whether in management or driving state of the art technological developments, here and abroad.”

Over the coming year, Go-Ahead London, responsible for a quarter of London’s buses, plans to hire 500 apprentice bus drivers, most of whom will be on the road driving within six weeks of recruitment.

Drivers are trained at Go-Ahead London’s Camberwell academy – the industry’s largest in-house apprenticeship centre.

In addition, Go North West, the Manchester-based bus company known for launching Greater Manchester’s Bee Network public transport service, aims to add 100 apprentice bus drivers.

Additional apprentices will be recruited across various roles at Go-Ahead’s regional bus companies and in head office positions in London and Newcastle.

The oldest apprentice to join Go-Ahead was 65, while some join straight from school or are career switchers.

New recruits are taught functional skills, including English and Maths, while working in Go-Ahead’s depots and offices.

Carolyn Ferguson, Go-Ahead Group’s Chief People Officer, said: “Our successful apprenticeship program and apprentices across the Go-Ahead Group play a vital role in shaping the future of the business and the broader transport industry.

“What they bring to the Go-Ahead Group is invaluable to our business and the transport sector, and we will continue to invest in talent and diversity.”

Last month, Marshall Fleet Solutions launched its dedicated apprenticeship for the transport refrigeration industry.

The Mobile Transport Refrigeration Technician apprenticeship has been designed from the ground up to develop all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required in order to install, service and repair transport refrigeration units.

The course can be delivered across the UK, enabling transport refrigeration companies and fleet operators of all sizes to work with training providers to develop their own teams of fully qualified in-house engineers and technicians.

Taught and assessed in partnership with accredited training providers, the course typically takes 36 months, with an end point assessment period of four months.

Companies involved in the apprenticeship trailblazer group which helped develop the programme include Morrisons, Petit Forestier, Nagel-Langdon, Turners of Soham, Michael Ward Refrigeration, Peter Staines Refrigeration, Coolmax Refrigeration, TIP Group, and Tesco.

Marshall Fleet Solutions and City of Liverpool College aim to pilot the apprenticeship with up to 10 apprentices for Marshall starting in 2024.

Mark Howell, Marshall Fleet Solutions Managing Director said: “This new apprenticeship is a much-needed replacement for an outdated, complicated setup that contained gaps and often lacked relevance.

“With this new programme, we have finally achieved proper recognition of the crucial work being done by the talented people who are ultimately ensuring an uninterrupted supply of food and medicine in the UK.”

Also, vehicle bodybuilder, TVS Interfleet, introduced a new apprenticeship programme in September 2023, with the aim of training the next generation of vehicle bodybuilders.

The company has created an initial eight initial apprenticeship places within the welding and body fitter departments at its Wisbech and Market Deeping sites.

These apprenticeships are run in conjunction with the College of West Anglia who provide classroom-based learning and skills development.

In addition, the company has developed a mentoring package that provides apprentices with access to a ‘buddy’ who is able to help them navigate their way through their first experience of a full-time job.

Ian Walch, Operations Director, at TVS Interfleet, said: “TVS Interfleet has grown significantly over the last couple of years and we’re continually looking at ways to strengthen our workforce to meet our ambitious growth plans.

“On successful completion of the programme, individuals will have the skills and qualifications to secure a job for life due to the in-demand nature of the apprenticeships that we are offering.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) recently announced that it has collaborated with TRS Training to introduce the Transport and Warehouse Operations Supervisor Apprenticeship, a funded programme designed to develop highly competent transport or warehouse supervisors.

This Level 3 apprenticeship spans 12 to 15 months, equipping candidates with the skills needed to lead and manage transport and warehouse operations.

The curriculum delves into legal obligations, and positions team members for supervisory roles like transport coordinator, transport manager, warehouse manager and traffic planner.

A distinguishing feature of the course is the inclusion of either the Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) or IOSH Managing Safely training and qualification, depending on the chosen pathway.

Apprentices gain professional competence in crucial areas, including customer service contract management, supply chain monitoring and reporting as well as regulatory compliance.

Tanith Dolan, Partner & Operational Training Manager at John Lewis, which has adopted the training scheme, said: “This apprenticeship provides us with a framework for empowering our managers with the essential skills needed to lead our transport and warehouse operations effectively.”

Thanks to initiatives such as National Apprenticeship Week, apprenticeships will continue to play a key role in delivering the skills the road transport sector needs for the future.

Update Newsletter