Extended HGV driver scheme starts up in town as organisers look to fill hundreds of jobs

An extended HGV driving course which could make hundreds of jobs available will have a training centre based in West Norfolk.

The Department for Education scheme which aims to equip new drivers across the east of England has been lengthened for another 12 months, with the Driver Academy Group to head up the training.

Courses went live again on April 1 at dozens of locations across the region, with the Hamilton’s Driver Training centre on Acer Road, Lynn among them. They will be on offer until March 31 next year.

HGV driving training will be on offer in Lynn as part of the scheme. Picture: iStock
HGV driving training will be on offer in Lynn as part of the scheme. Picture: iStock

The programme will primarily focus on novice training pathways, helping new HGV drivers gain their Category C (rigid lorry) licence or Category C+E (articulated lorry) licence.

There will also be help for those with a Category C licence who want to upgrade to a Category C + E.

The scheme was originally launched in 2021 amid a series of supply chain issues caused by a lack of drivers.

James Clifford, the CEO of the HGVC trainers, said that “while the immediate short-term driver shortage has abated, the long-term chronic shortage persists”.

“As we’ve seen, thousands of people in the UK want to become lorry drivers. With further funding, we’re confident we can train even more people in the UK, close the longer-term shortfall of drivers and keep Britain moving,” he added.

“While the economy continues to face some major challenges, this scheme really is a lifeline for the UK’s logistics industry.”

The scheme, which aims to fill “hundreds more” roles across the east of England, has already resulted in more than 1,000 trainees in the UK passing practical tests since December 2021.

More than 650 of these are new drivers having gained their HGV licence, while 457 are existing HGV drivers who have gained “new skills”. Qualified drivers are reported to be securing starting salaries of up to £40,000.

Those interested in taking part in the scheme, either as learners or businesses, can visit www.hgv.academy

Companies looking to upskill existing drivers can apply for Government funding of 70% of the scheme’s total cost.

An exodus of European lorry drivers due to Brexit and issues following Covid lockdowns led to worries that supermarket shelves could be left empty in 2021.

And now, the Driver Academy Group has described the current scheme as a “lifeline” amid the cost-of-living crisis.