Martin Reid: National Lorry Week highlights work opportunities

Training academy part of plans to fill recruitment gaps, says Martin Reid

The transport industry is seeking new staff all the time  and not just drivers. Picture: iStock Editorial

Last year in a similar Scotsman article I proudly heralded the arrival of the inaugural National Lorry Week, which took place in early October 2015. The Road Haulage Association and its members held events across the country designed to promote the freight and logistics sector and the career opportunities the industry can offer.

Last year saw us host “Love the Lorry” events in Aberdeen, Livingston, Inverness, Oban and also at Andrew Black Haulage’s yard in Drem. Schools and colleges brought their pupils to meet the drivers, ask them questions – and in the case of one young competition winner, Max Vasey, see the Colin Lawson truck that would be named after him and carry his name on the front livery for the life of the truck.

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These activities not only outlined the opportunities for new entrants to the industry but also increased the profile of the industry and highlighted the driver shortage our members constantly face. We operate in an industry where the average age of a driver is very high (53-55 depending on who you speak to) which mean we have substantially more leavers than entrants every year.

The importance of the road haulage industry to the Scottish economy is difficult to overestimate, with 85 per cent of everything we own, wear and consume having been delivered on the back of a lorry. This is why it is vital that we do all we can to encourage new entrants into the industry, where they can explore careers as a driver, transport manager, trainer or even start their own business within the industry.

That’s not to say there has not been progress. Since last year’s National Lorry Week, the RHA has worked extensively with Skills Development Scotland to look at changing revenue streams for licence acquisition as well as reviewing the suitability of the Modern Apprenticeship offering in terms of meeting industry needs. We also have continuing dialogue with a number of parties to try to facilitate the transition into our industry from those in other sectors who have lost their jobs. We have contributed to an independent government report on the driver shortage and earlier this year we were proud to work in partnership with the charity Care after Combat to launch The Road to Logistics. This will help retrain and give jobs within the logistics sector to ex-servicemen who have struggled to integrate back into society following military service.

In order to aid the delivery of this programme and others across the UK, the RHA is looking to develop a national training academy. Last year National Lorry Week became the focal point for so many good things and proved to be a catalyst for change, particularly in raising the profile of the industry. We are rightly proud of the progress made and look to continue this good work in 2016.

National Lorry Week 2016 will take place from 19 to 24 September and the theme is “The Next Generation”. There will be a number of events at member’s premises across the country, as well as a conference and event at Falkirk stadium on 22 September.

The week will close with a family fun day at M&D’s theme park with around 20 trucks expected to be in attendance. There will be competitions running on local radio and we are confident we can carry on the good work from last year and show that transport and logistics can offer long-term career prospects in a modern industry. If you or someone you know is considering a change of career or are interested in finding out more about the transport and logistics sector, keep an eye out for details on the RHA website or call the team at our Livingston office on 01506 414073.

• Martin Reid is Business Unit Director (North) at the Road Haulage Association