Stiller Warehousing and Distribution’s head of pallet distribution Chris Bain (centre) with driver trainers Graham Bedford (left) and John Parker at the firm’s premises on Aycliffe Business Park
Logistics firm Stiller Warehousing and Distribution has launched another innovative scheme to get more people into driving heavy goods vehicles.
The family-run company, based on Aycliffe Business Park, is trying to tempt young people to take up a career in driving HGVs with its own in-house “earn while you learn” training pathway programme.
Stiller has previously ran successful programmes to attract ex-servicemen and overseas employees in a bid to combat a nationwide shortage of drivers.
And while Stiller’s proactive approach to taking on new drivers is already reaping rewards, the firm is now targeting potential young employees who have no previous experience of driving HGVs.
Three new drivers will eventually be taken on every two months – costing the company £5,000 per driver in wages and training – as Stiller looks to increase staff numbers this year, meaning the scheme could cost the firm up to £90,000 a year.
Stiller will also loan each driver £1,250 to pay for the HGV class C practical training and test fees with a nearby driving school, which will be paid back over six months.
Commercial manager Matthew Stiller said: “This is a way of getting people into the industry faster, and hopefully giving them a permanent job at the end of it.
“Training up young people into HGV drivers will have long-term benefits for the company, because we know when we’ve put them through their training, we’ve given them job specific real-world skills.
“There is still a nationwide shortage of drivers, although we’re not feeling too much of a pinch here at the moment, mainly because of the proactive work we’ve already done in recruiting drivers.
“We want to encourage people who haven’t driven HGVs before into the industry and we want to encourage younger people to take up the profession. Driving heavy goods vehicles is an ageing workforce, with an average age of about 53.
“And because we’d be training our own drivers, we’d be showing them our way of operating and it would mean we’d have drivers who don’t have any bad habits at the end of it.
“It shows we’re willing to invest up front in people and we’re also trying to think outside of the box in our recruitment drive.”
The successful applicants will spent up to two months undergoing Stiller’s own in-house training while earning £400 a week before taking their HGV test.
Matthew added: “First we’ll give them all the knowhow they need to be able to apply for their provisional licences.
“They will then spend up to two months with our ROSPA-accredited drivers learning about load security, safety, economical driving and various other elements of driving HGVs in our own training vans.
“Once they have all the skills and knowledge we’d put them through an intensive week of training with a test at the end of it by a professional training school.”
Stiller provides cost-effective warehousing and distribution services to businesses in the North-East region as well as commercial property lettings and is also a member and major shareholder in Palletline, a national co-operative network of 70 companies.
Stiller’s turnover climbed from £10m to £13m in 2015, after the firm made significant investments of more than £5.7m on equipment and people over the last two-and-a-half years.
The firm spent £125,000 in five brand new trailers at the end of last year, and earlier in 2015 it invested £1.1m on a new state-of-the-art, 40,000 sq ft, 5,000-pallet warehouse, increasing by nearly 50% its warehousing capacity to 200,000 sq ft.
That followed the acquisition of a fleet of 12 new vehicles, including two 12-tonne vehicles, two urban trailers and four long double-deck trailers in 2014.
• Potential drivers, who must have a clean driver’s licence for a minimum of two years, can send their CV to firstname.lastname@example.org