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Stobart scraps driver apprenticeship

30th January 2014
Page 40
Page 40, 30th January 2014 — Stobart scraps driver apprenticeship
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

By Steve Hobson

EDDIE STOBART has ended its awardwinning driver apprenticeship scheme run in association with System Training, opting instead to take driver recruitment and training back in-house.

The pair won the Apprenticeship of the Year in CM's sister title's Motor Transport Awards in 2012 for the two-year scheme that saw 10 trainees taken on that year from a total of 200 applicants.

"The apprenticeship was stopped due to the funding available to the age group we needed to target, ie 19 to 21," said Neale Burdon, Stobart resource and training manager. "While we were running the apprenticeship, it became clear that we

were receiving a large amount of interest from people looking to become an HGV driver and willing to pay for it."

Nigel Barton, MD of System Training, said: "Stobart was finding it hard to keep on with 16 to 18 year olds and wanted to increase the numbers of over 18s— but you can't make it pay for that age group."

Potential new recruits must now pay £2,000 plus VAT for their training and C+E licence, which is less than if they were to obtain their licence independently.

"They could go to numerous training providers to gain their licence, but there was no employment," added Burdon. "Not only could we offer this [licence acquisition] but we could offer them a job. This also meant we could keep delegated examiner status which keeps the cost of test fees down."

The major benefit of the new approach is that while there is no guarantee of employment, drivers who are not offered a job at the end of the training do not owe Stobart anything and can walk away with their new licence.

"Our fees include all of the theory and practical tests," said Burdon. "On being successful they would be offered a job and then they come back to the Stobart Training Academy to go through our driver induction programme, then into one of our business units."

Stobart is hoping to put 80 drivers through the programme at its academy in Widnes, and will then look to roll it out to another location.

It is planning to recruit a minimum of 100 new drivers in its next financial year.

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