A.F. Blakemore amp; Son is looking to its existing workforce to help ease the distribution strain caused by a national shortage of drivers.
It is offering employees the chance to develop their career in logistics through a bespoke Warehouse to Wheels programme that helps colleagues gain the necessary qualifications to become long goods vehicle (LGV) drivers.
Blakemore operates 10 depots across the West Midlands, Yorkshire, South Wales and East Sussex, with a fleet of 295 vehicles delivering more than 80 million cases.
Group logistics director Andy Grinsell said that the Warehouse to Wheels programme had been developed as part of the company’s long term approach to colleague development and to address growing difficulties in recruiting new drivers.
“Statistics from the Freight Transport Association indicate that the country currently faces a shortfall of 60,000 drivers, which is being exacerbated as the economy returns back to growth.
“This clearly poses challenges to companies such as ourselves and we are looking to develop our people from within to avoid over reliance upon agencies.”
Since 2008 A.F. Blakemore has taken 20 drivers through the programme, with 18 obtaining C+E licenses and two obtaining a Class C. A further 10 colleagues are expected to complete the programme in June.
Blakemore also launched a driver apprentice scheme last year, which has already seen three young people gain the qualifications and experience required to start a professional career in driving.
Grinsell added: “Our economy is reliant upon distribution, yet the average age of a driver in the U.K. is 53, it is therefore vital that we develop drivers for the future. While we will always welcome external applicants for driver positions, it is important to us that we also invest in our existing workforce and develop internal capability. We want to retain talent and provide our colleagues with a career in distribution, which will in turn allow our business to grow and meet the needs of our customers.”
Pictured: Apprentice Ben Hilton, who is now full-time employed with Blakemore after achieving a Class 2 driver licence.