The surge of applicants for the roles in Darlaston has been in response to a UK-wide appeal for new lorry drivers by Nationwide Platforms, the UK’s leading provider of powered access machines for hire.
In total 2,500 people applied for 10 vacancies, with the remaining eight posts based at five other sites across the country in London, Warrington, Wellingborough, Leicester and Bristol.
In response to the current national shortage of drivers, the company has said that once appointed, the cohort of 10 could likely be increased to a total of 45 over the coming months as the business tries to bolster its driver workforce for the future.
James Clarke, Head of Haulage for Nationwide Platforms said: “For decades and for a number of reasons, there has been a shortage of drivers in the industry but it has only now come to a head with the impact of the pandemic and Brexit making things even more acute.
“We have always invested heavily in apprentices across the company and believe this is the best way to secure talent for the future but this is the first time we have appealed for this many HGV apprentices at once and we have been overwhelmed by the response.
“HGV driving is a highly skilled profession and by offering a competitive package along with favourable working hours we’ve been able to attract a wide range of candidates from all kinds of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”
One of the candidates who attended the assessment day at the Darlaston branch in Willenhall Road was single father Cleveland McGory from Tipton. The 27-year-old currently drives a 3.5 tonne van for a wholesale food distribution company and is keen to upgrade his skill base and secure his HGV licence, whilst still having secure employment and a regular income.
He said “It’s really hard for people to get their HGV licence at the moment so an apprenticeship is the ideal way to learn and earn at the same time. If did this off my own back, I’d have to fork out a lot of my own money, take time off work and it could take up to a year to complete.
“This way, I can have the security of a position that not only pays for my training and my licence but also means I have guaranteed work at the end. As a single parent, that level of certainty is crucial for me.”
The 17 candidates who were selected to attend the assessment day were put through their paces with a driving test, a Highway Code test, a tour of the depot and an experience in one of Nationwide Platforms’ core products, a 50ft scissor lift.
As well as becoming a qualified LGV drivers, the successful apprentices will learn how to load, unload and operate the company’s powered access machines that it delivers to clients all over the country, making these roles particularly skilled and varied.
James concluded: “As well as great rates of pay, Monday to Friday working hours and an employer that is wholly committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive workforce and raising the profile of these vital jobs, we can provide our staff with the high-quality training and a long and successful career.”
The apprenticeship programme is 12 months in total and staff can be fully qualified HGV drivers in around five months.
Nationwide Platforms has also recently announced an investment of more than £8 million in new machines for hire as well as its delivery and training services. With higher capacity models, improved safety features and either fully electric or hybrid engines, the investment ensures the company’s portfolio of machines for hire continues to be best in class.