Boroughbridge-based Reed Boardall, one of the leading providers of cold storage and distribution services to food producers and retailers across the UK, is tackling the current national HGV driver shortage crisis by bringing a new generation of professional drivers into the industry via its successful Driver Academy launched last autumn. Since the inception of the academy, Reed Boardall has successfully qualified 14 drivers.

Aware of the impending problem as the impact of Brexit and Covid saw a significant fall in driver numbers, the business has spent the last year setting up its own driver training facility at its Boroughbridge site to help those wanting to change careers. Reed Boardall is now offering a number of courses to help people to enter the sector and is supporting the up-front costs of training – no previous experience is required, candidates just need to have a full UK driving licence.

“Increasingly, people are wanting to move into different sectors and try different jobs, often later in life, but many have been put off becoming an HGV driver because of the high cost of the training and the test fees,” says Ross Morris, health and safety, training and development manager at Reed Boardall “With a growing number of vacancies within our transport operation, we decided that the answer was to invest in the next generation of HGV drivers by setting up our own Driver Academy to provide the training and support they needed. We’re keen to attract as much new talent to the industry as we can, from all ages and backgrounds, including younger people and women who may not have considered this career previously.”

Lee Wilson of Ripon, who’s worked for Reed Boardall for the last 18 years, mainly within its cold store division, completed his training with the company in March and is now a qualified HGV driver. He said: “I always fancied taking my HGV, but was put off by the cost. Once Reed Boardall started its Driver Academy, I jumped at the chance - now I’m HGV driving and I wish I’d done it years ago.”

Asked what the future holds, Lee added: “Reed Boardall has always been a great company to work for and I look forward to many years driving HGVs for them.”

Stevland Town, managing director of the transport division, added: “Our initiative to attract more talent into the industry will help to future-proof the business as we continue to grow alongside our customers. Congratulations to all of our new drivers who have passed their HGV tests and are now well on their way to enjoying a rewarding and long-term career with us!”