Gist expects its in-house training and testing programme to deliver up to 300 qualified HGV drivers every year

Gist has launched an in-house HGV training and testing centre in efforts to tackle the UK’s driver shortage.

The logistics company has set up its own fully accredited centre in Spalding, Lincolnshire, where aspiring drivers can train and sit their Class C+E driving test.

Gist is now recruiting up to 80 eligible Class C drivers and provisional HGV licence holders in the hopes they will be driving for the company in time for the peak holiday trading period.

“The logistics industry has a critical part to play in addressing the HGV driver shortage,” said Gist chief executive Michael Chambers.

“Training and developing home-grown drivers is the most sustainable way out of this crisis, which is likely to be with us for some time to come.”

Gist, which delivers for supermarkets such as M&S and Tesco, expects its new in-house training and testing programme to deliver up to 300 newly qualified HGV drivers every year.

The logistics firm will fully fund all training costs and fees for those who get a place on the programme, as well as cover all travel and accommodation costs.

Successful candidates will also receive sign-on and retention bonuses of up to £5,000 payable over their first 15 months of employment – a measure the company announced in early August to boost HGV applications.

Chambers added that, while recent government intervention on short-term HGV driver visas was “welcomed and will help deliver the nation’s Christmas, it is not a long-term solution”.

The government recently announced it was granting 5,000 EU HGV drivers a temporary visa to help ease the labour shortage during Christmas.

However, The Grocer reported foreign drivers are unlikely to hit UK roads until the second week of November due to a mixture of the time it takes government to authorise the scheme and hauliers to recruit and on-board foreign drivers.