Blakemore focuses on own Warehouse to Wheels programme to tackle driver shortfall

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A logistics operator has placed increased emphasis upon developing its own people to help ease the challenges created as a result of the national shortage of drivers.

AF Blakemore & Son provides existing employees with the opportunity to develop their career in logistics through a bespoke Warehouse to Wheels programme that helps colleagues gain the necessary qualifications to become long goods vehicle (LGV) drivers.

The company, which operates 10 distribution depots across the West Midlands, Yorkshire, South Wales and East Sussex, currently boasts a fleet of 295 vehicles delivering more than 80m cases across the wholesale distribution, food service and meat distribution sectors.

Group logistics director Andy Grinsell said that the Warehouse to Wheels programme had been developed as part of the company’s long term approach to colleague development and to address growing difficulties in recruiting new drivers. “Statistics from the Freight Transport Association indicate that the country currently faces a shortfall of 60,000 drivers, which is being exacerbated as the economy returns back to growth.

“This clearly poses challenges to companies such as ourselves and we are looking to develop our people from within to avoid over reliance upon agencies.”

Since 2008 AF Blakemore has progressed 20 drivers through the Warehouse to Wheels programme, with 18 obtaining C+E licenses and two obtaining a Class C. Currently a further 10 colleagues have embarked upon a programme due for completion in June.

In addition to Warehouse to Wheels, the company launched a driver apprentice scheme last year, which has already seen three young people gain the qualifications and experience required to begin a professional career in driving.

Grinsell said: “Our economy is reliant upon distribution, yet the average age of a driver in the UK is 53, it is therefore vital that we develop drivers for the future.

“While we will always welcome external applicants for driver positions, it is important to us that we also invest in our existing workforce and develop internal capability.

“We want to retain talent and provide our colleagues with a career in distribution, which will in turn allow our business to grow and meet the needs of our customers.”

If you are interested in LGV driving job vacancies or training opportunities with AF Blakemore, please email recruitment@afblakemore.com