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28th Nov, 2021

Rugby Amazon employee among hundreds hoping to ease truck driver shortage

AN ENTHUSIASTIC Amazon employee in Rugby is among hundreds nationwide looking to ease the UK’s shortage of HGV drivers.

Ben Grace, a member of the Inbound team at Amazon’s Rugby fulfilment centre, is one of 400 Amazon employees who are currently training for new careers as truck drivers.

The Office for National Statistics has reported there are 39,000 fewer HGV drivers in the UK than in 2019, and 53,000 fewer than the peak in 2017 – leading to some businesses having trouble importing and exporting, and shortages of some goods in shops.

As a result, HGV driver training has become the most popular course on Amazon’s Career Choice programme.

Rugbeian Ben, 23, joined Amazon two years ago and is now a few weeks into his HGV course.

He said: “It’s a really good course which should take about three months to complete.

“I’ve always thought about trying HGV driving and Career Choice is a great option and I’d encourage anyone to apply for something they’re interested in.

While Ben doesn’t yet know where his new skills will take him, his focus is on completing his training. “I passed my driving test first time five years ago so I’m hoping for a repeat this time,” he said.

Amazon is partnering with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and local businesses on the programme to identify regional skills shortages and focus training on local demand.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “To tackle skills shortages and improve business productivity we need to ramp-up investment in the training and reskilling of the workforce.

“Business has a major part to play in supporting people to gain new skills and it’s great to see how Amazon’s initiative is helping to launch new careers and boost resilience in local supply chains.”

Amazon’s Vice President of UK Operations, Jonathan Gal, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support more than 400 of our employees to achieve their ambition to become HGV drivers and play a part in helping to boost the haulage industry.

“For people whose ambitions fall outside of our company, we are pleased to support them by paying for training and academic courses that can support their ambitions.”

The Career Choice programme provides funding for adult education, offering to pre-pay 95 per cent of tuition and associated fees for nationally recognised courses, up to £8,000 over four years. Courses, which include accountancy, HGV drivers and software developers, are designed to help employees pursue careers at Amazon or elsewhere.

The first newly-qualified drivers will be available for work in the UK later this month.

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