Oldham Council has launched an innovative new scheme to support those in warehouse work to get higher paid jobs as drivers.
The Warehouse to Wheels scheme sees the local authority working with leading driver training firm Mantra Learning Limited to boost the skills of those in the logistics industry.
The programme will address the shortage of Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) drivers in the borough by enabling employers to advance their careers and help Oldham businesses to grow.
Mantra Learning Limited, working co-operatively with the council’s Get Oldham Working team, will train existing warehouse or other staff within small and medium enterprise companies (SMEs) in the borough to obtain a Category C Large Goods Vehicle licence*.
The scheme will see a combined investment of more than £200,000 from Oldham Council, the Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund (ESF).
Transport and warehousing is one of the largest growing sectors in Oldham – accounting for 4.4 per cent of the business in the borough**.
It is predicted that 20 per cent of future jobs will be within these industries with an estimated 1,800 new jobs created.
Councillor Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This scheme is very much close to my heart as my father is a truck driver and I used to ride along with him when I was young.
“As a co-operative council we are finding innovative ways to support communities and I want to help to those in low paid employment who are doing their bit to get on in life.
“While many government programmes focus on those out of work, which is important also, we are also determined to help those who are also in work, working hard and who want to do better for themselves and their families.
“Local people, both in work and unemployed, cannot afford to obtain the relevant licence – with the average cost totalling £1,800 including VAT. This is a national issue.
“In Oldham we have chosen to do something about this and through our Warehouse to Wheels scheme we will invest in those local people who want to get on in life and are willing to work hard.
“With the right driving qualification hardworking residents can earn an additional £7,000 a year – that’s potentially around £148,000 over a working life.
“The companies will also be offered support from our Get Oldham Working team to fill any vacancies that become available as people progress into driving roles.”
Mark Currie, Chief Executive of Mantra Learning Limited, said: “We welcome this programme with Oldham Council as it addresses a critical issue that is affecting the vast majority of our customers – the shortage of qualified drivers.
“We are a respected training provider for the haulage industry and have strong relationships with a large number of logistics operators in Greater Manchester including more than 100 that are located in Oldham.
“Our philosophy is to provide people from all walks of life with practical skills and knowledge, enabling them to impact on business and advance their own careers.”
Mantra Learning will look to recruit 40 residents during the next 12 months who will be recruited via their employers.
Each resident will receive:
> Information Advice and Guidance support
> Level 1 Award (in the principles of carrying and delivering goods by road)
> Medical and provisional licence application
> Theory and hazard perception test
> LGV tuition – 20 hours on average
> Practical test
> Initial Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) tests
> Further progression onto Intermediate Apprenticeship in Driving Goods Vehicles
Mantra Learning has been offering learning and skills programmes to support the logistics, automotive and business sectors for over 40 years.
The Get Oldham Working initiative supports local residents into sustainable jobs. The aim is to create 2,015 work-related opportunities by 2015.
Local businesses and organisations interested in providing traineeships, apprentices or jobs for local people can either express interest by filling in the pledge card on-line at www.oldham.gov.uk/get_oldham_working or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 770 4674.
*Category C allows you to drive a vehicle without a trailer with a maximum authorised mass over 750 kgs.
**According to the Business Register and Employment Survey, Transport and warehousing is one of the largest growing sectors in Oldham, with significant growth between 2009 and 2012 and now accounts for 4.4 per cent of the business in Oldham.