The Department for Education (DfE) has today (Friday, December 10) announced it has boosted the capacity of HGV driver training courses to just over 11,000 places, to support supply chains just in time for Christmas.

“To help even more people get the training they need to be road ready, we’re expanding our HGV Skills Bootcamps to support more than 11,000 people to gain the skills they need to progress in the industry, and to help those with previous experience refresh their skills so they can get back on the road,” said Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

It’s right that we do all we can to support supply chains and give the country the Christmas it deserves,” added Minister for Housing Christopher Pincher MP.

Courses are in high demand according to the department, with just over 2,000 people having already expressed interest in signing up with the National Career Service and hundreds more through Jobcentre and the DfE helpline.

This additional HGV testing capacity has been made possible as, to free up time, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has split the HGV and bus driving tests into two different parts.

To ensure more people can take their test sooner, the DVSA is also making capacity available for 500 more HGV driving tests a week.

HGV driver training

The Skills Bootcamps in HGV driving are free, flexible and intensive courses designed to train drivers to be road-ready and gain their licence. People that successfully complete the HGV courses are guaranteed a job interview with an employer, and the first drivers are expected to be on the road from March 2022.

The courses, which are available across the country now, are part of the government’s response to the HGV driver shortages that came as a result of Covid-19 and Brexit, and affected many parts of the UK supply chain.

In the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) survey on quarter three of 2021, UK food and drink businesses cited severe supply chain disruption as their biggest cause of concern, with 93% experiencing delayed or missed outbound deliveries and 75% reporting delayed or missed inbound deliveries.

68% of companies specifically cited the shortage of HGV drivers as a particular worry.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes that these extra training camp places, will “provide a further boost for the sector as we work together towards its recovery”.