RHA Members and Mid and East Antrim Council keeping up momentum on Driver Academy   

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council alongside members of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) are shifting up a gear with the launch of the third wave of the ever popular Transport Academy.

The Academy, which is led by Council and managed by Workforce Training Services, includes a range of community, voluntary and statutory stakeholders – including Road Haulage Association members – who work together to overcome local employability challenges – with the primary objective of supporting more people into meaningful employment.

Chris Ward of Workforce Training Service, Sean Keenan of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Lyle Watson of McBurney.

The Transport Academy has been designed to respond to specific local needs – by closing the gap between local employer needs and the chronic skilled labour shortage in the HGV and bus sectors. This time round, those selected to take part will have the option of acquiring a Category C (HGV Class 2) licence or a PCV (bus/coach) licence.

The Transport Academy is one of a number of interventions outlined in the Mid and East Antrim Labour Market Partnership’s annual action plan. The local partnership forms part of a province-wide approach developed by the Department for Communities to address employment, careers and training issues through a collaborative, flexible and locally focused approach to employability support.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said: “Council is delighted to support local residents who wish to develop new skills and enter employment in key sectors such as transport and logistics.  This programme is one of several Labour Market Partnership initiatives helping to address specific local labour market issues thanks to financial support provided by the Department for Communities.”

Securing Employment

Local company, McBurney transport, have been pivotal in the creation and continued support of the Academy – providing employment for a number of successful applicants as well as offering further upskilling for those successful in securing employment.

David Smyth recently completed the Academy training and said: “I found the course really well organised and the training provided was of a professionally high standard.

“You learn all the information required to obtain your HGV Category C (Class 2) licence and the team help put you in touch with the right employers for the role you want.

“I’ve secured a job with McBurney’s transport and I’m absolutely loving it! It’s offered me a new career that suits my life and is helping create a positive future for my family.”

Lyle Watson Training Manager for McBurney Transport said: “I am proud to be a part of this initiative, supporting our local Council and giving people the opportunity to adapt their skills, gain new experiences and enjoy full time careers in the logistics and passenger industry.”

Qualifying Criteria

Applicants to the Transport Academy must be resident in the Borough; aged over 21; willing to undertake a medical examination and hold a valid UK Driving Licence. They must also fulfil at least one of the following criteria: currently unemployed; under-employed; employed but at risk of redundancy; or employed and interested in upskilling or reskilling.

Various courses will be available, comprising: a one-day theory lesson; 25 hours online training; theory test; five-day practical lesson (including test) over one week. Following successful completion of the theory and practical tests, participants will attend a one-day employability session; one-to-one mentoring including help with updating a CV and preparing for interview, after which they will be invited to attend interview(s). Applicants must be available to attend all sessions. All training will be carried out in the Borough.

Chris Ward of Workforce Training Service adds: “Workforce are delighted to deliver the Transport Employment Academy on behalf of Mid and East Antrim Council. By working in partnership with employers such as McBurney’s Transport, participants are assured of real employment opportunities upon completion of their training. Workforce are thrilled that Council are now embarking upon their third Academy which includes the opportunity for participants to gain a bus/coach license which will further help address the labour market shortage across the Borough”

Pamela Dennison, Policy Officer for the RHA said: “This is a fantastic initiative which provides valuable skills for the industry – ensuring that local transport businesses in the Council area can continue to deliver and provide employment. The Academy demonstrates the importance Council places on skills and transport within its locality.”