Gov pledges funding increase for HGV driver apprenticeships

The funding band for the HGV C+E apprenticeship has now risen from £7000 to £8000, according to the government, in a move which has been welcomed by the RHA.

The Association said it has campaigned with industry partners for the increased support amid a 20% hike in operating costs for lorries.

“This move is much needed given rising costs and inflation, and will help get more new drivers behind the wheel,” said Sally Gilson, RHA policy lead, skills and drivers.

However, the RHA said it is disappointed with an increase in funding for heavy vehicle technicians, which it says is inadequate to tackle shortages.

Ministers announced an increase in the funding band from £15,000 to £20,000, which the Association says is a “real terms reduction” and falls short of the £23,000 needed to make running the courses viable.

In 2017, the apprenticeship was funded at £18,000 – but an error within two of the training quotes was not picked up by Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), which saw the funding incorrectly reduced to £15,000.

The RHA said it has long urged ministers to fully fund the apprenticeship to ensure it is viable to deliver.

In a recent joint letter with key industry figures to ministers, they said the number colleges and training providers offering the course had declined from more than 100 in 2010 to just 41 in 2023.

This is despite a growing need for heavy vehicle technicians.

They cited rising costs and a lack of funding support as key reasons why fewer courses and apprenticeships are available. Training providers are being expected to subsidise essential costs to run the apprenticeship, RHA argued.

Gilson said: “This is a missed opportunity to help our industry tackle the shortage of technicians. The underfunding of these courses has had a profound impact on bringing new talent into the industry.

“We acknowledge the increased funding band, but realistically it falls short to encourage training providers to run these courses. We also run the risk of current providers leaving the market.

“We urge ministers to reconsider and pledge the £23,000 funding we need,” she concluded.