Road Haulage Industry: Driver Shortage

Oral Answers to Questions — Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Conservative, Daventry 11:30 am, 10th November 2015

What steps he is taking to address the shortage of drivers in the road haulage industry.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

Mr Speaker, you can see why I was a little bit nervous about popping up again.

We are working closely with a group of leading sector employers to support the development of a new apprenticeship standard for heavy goods vehicle drivers. The standard will equip apprentices with the driving skills the road haulage industry needs.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Conservative, Daventry

Could my hon. Friend name five—no, I will not go there.

Will my hon. Friend work with employers in the road haulage industry to try to incentivise driving as a career choice for young people?

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

Yes, I absolutely will. There is a desperate need for more skilled drivers. It is actually a great opportunity for people who are in relatively low-skilled employment. We had a very interesting discussion in the Social Justice Cabinet Committee recently about this being an opportunity, as a very good kind of first employment, for ex-offenders. A Defence Minister has mentioned that it is a great opportunity for people leaving the forces. We need to do more on all sides in the Government.

Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

What more can the Government do to help haulage companies with the exorbitant fees of £3,500 that are charged to train for HGV licences?

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

There is a convention, which we have stuck to for very good reasons, that we do not ask the taxpayer to pay for licences to practise a particular profession. We believe that doing so should be directly in the interests of both the employer and the employee who will benefit from having the licence. However, we are encouraging those companies to develop, and they are working on developing, an apprenticeship standard to include the whole of the rest of the training, which will of course receive substantial support from the taxpayer and from the apprenticeship levy.