The Transport Operations and Commercial Driving apprenticeship was launched in ATUU Sligo on Thursday the 26th of May 2022 by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris and Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton. This apprenticeship will go some way in changing the perception of commercial driving as a profession, through creating awareness in schools, informing parents and career guidance counsellors of the varied driving roles within the freight distribution sector that offer rewarding and challenging career opportunities. The transport operations and commercial driving apprenticeship is an industry driven apprenticeship designed by industry for industry and is the culmination of years of hard work by all involved.
The success of a supply chain is reliant on strong robust relationships at all links of the chain, that deliver efficient on time every time logistics. At every stage of the supply chain, there is a reliance on Truck Drivers and the companies they work for! The freight transport function of distribution is critical to efficient logistics and is often taken for granted. The cost associated with transportation is close to 55% of the total cost of logistics. In 2018, road transport accounted for 76% of the total inland freight transport across the EU (based on tonne-kilometres performed). However, in Ireland it is much higher at almost 99% due to the signiﬁcantly lower contribution of other modes of transport. Our reliance on truck drivers is not reflected in the status this profession has within the supply chain or in the public domain and must be challenged. When we think of Trucks we tend to automatically think of Haulage, i.e., the distribution of goods by truck for hire and reward, however they only make up half of the story. Currently there are over 40,000 Irish registered Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV’s) greater than 3.5 tonnes in Ireland. Of that number, 21,437 vehicles are included in the 3,812 Road Haulage Operator Licences issued by the State. The average size haulage operator has 5.6 HGVs. The own account HGV operations are identifiable as being involved in the movement of their own goods, [not for hire and reward], such as fuel distribution, retail distribution, local authorities, waste management services and so on and these companies make up the balance. This apprenticeship is open to both the haulage and own account sector!
The transport and logistics sector has been less successful than others in recruiting younger workers over the years due to many factors including a perception that it is made up of predominantly low skilled jobs required to work long hours. The lack of diversity within the profession of commercial driving is also telling. According to Road Safety Authority data, there are over 200,000 Heavy Goods Vehicle licences issued in Ireland and only 2% are issued to women in both C & CE category. This must change! Another concern is that over 60% of HGV full licences holders are over the age of 50.
This apprenticeship will make a big difference to the industry for the following reasons:
- This new apprenticeship will serve to be the catalyst to attract young people and vitally more women into our industry to support business growth.
- The academic qualification offers validity and value to the profession of driving
- It will support career progression opportunities within the workforce
- As mentioned, the average size haulage business has just over 5 trucks. This programme can support succession planning, with sons or daughters gaining a business qualification whilst attaining their driving licence and supporting the legacy of their family business.
- Having more education and training options in our sector, supported by the collaborative focus of the logistics and supply chain skills forum will support Irelands ambitions to be leaders in supply chain and logistics and help us compete against other industry for people.