The Road Haulage Association considers that Government’s planned changes to boost apprenticeship numbers and drive up the quality of courses risks being little more than a new tax on payroll in the road haulage sector and that the Association was already seeking an urgent meeting with skills minister Nick Boles after the levy was announced by Chancellor George Osborne.
Commenting, RHA director of policy Jack Semple said: “Mr Boles has rejected the proposal for an HGV driver apprenticeship which his department had invited. We have asked officials how a large road haulage firm, employing primarily lorry drivers, can get its levy back when no apprenticeship is available. We await their response.
“The option remains for a large haulier to have general business and traffic office apprenticeships but that hardly compensates for the lack of an HGV driver apprenticeship.
“Meanwhile we hear from members of growing concerns over driver shortages, growing reliance on drivers from abroad, and major retailers already poaching drivers with the promise of large bonuses to secure their services in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas, all to the detriment of transport companies.
“The government has repeatedly refused to support transport firms in meeting the cost of training new drivers. Now they appear to be talking about levy for apprenticeships that they have refused.
“We wait with keen interest to hear from Nick Boles how this is going to work and not simply be a new tax on the UK haulage industry, and to discuss a more productive way forward.”