A new lorry driving apprenticeship that will allow drivers to “earn as they learn” will be launched today by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris.
The two-year Transport Operations and Commercial Driving apprenticeship is the first on the national framework of qualifications linked with the profession of Heavy Goods Vehicle driving.
It will provide the opportunity for employees to gain a higher education qualification as well as their professional driving qualification, and is backed by lead proposer Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTA Ireland) and co-ordinating provider Atlantic Technological University.
“That is what we need – industry and education working together to address the skills shortages we have,” Minister Harris said.
“Under this programme, apprentices are employed by a business for the duration of the two-year programme and will earn as they learn. But in addition to this, apprentices will participate in lectures in ATU Sligo.
“This is good news for our economy, good news for businesses and good news for education.”
The average age of commercial vehicle drivers at present is over 50, with only two per cent of those holding a commercial vehicle license being women.
The launch of the new apprenticeship hopes to attract a new generation to the industry, with more women HGV drivers.
Aidan Flynn, chief executive of FTA Ireland, said the industry is “now struggling to recruit a diverse workforce and has suffered long-standing skills shortages as a result.”
“Road transport is critical to the continued success of Ireland’s supply chain, since it accounts for almost 99 per cent of inland freight movements across the country,” he said.
“Apprenticeships are a proven means for new recruits to join a sector while still learning during their workplace training, and we are confident that this new apprenticeship – the 65th launched nationwide – will attract new employees to our vibrant industry and ensure that they can take up one of the many jobs currently on offer once qualified.”
Our graduates will be equipped with the technical and business skills that are needed to excel
Dr Orla Flynn, President of Atlantic Technological University, said the new apprenticeship builds on the university’s experience of designing programmes that incorporate work-based learning and online teaching.
“We are confident that this unique programme will address a national skills shortage, by ensuring that our graduates will be equipped with the technical and business skills that are needed to excel in a dynamic and progressive industry sector,” she said.
It comes as a new apprenticeship employer grant also becomes available from today, providing employers with €2,000 per apprentice per year to help cover the costs of salaries, mentoring and training.
The grant is available to employers hiring apprentices on 40 apprenticeship programmes introduced since 2016 which do not currently attract a training allowance.