ONE of the major players in the Scottish convenience store market is taking steps to ensure a future supply of drivers amid a backdrop of shortages.
CJ Lang & Son, the Dundee-based food and drink wholesaler which owns and supplies Spar outlets across Scotland, is investing in a new driver apprenticeship scheme to ensure it can meet the needs of the business as it grows the stable of shops its supplies.
A nationwide lack of HGV drivers means retailers and suppliers are struggling to transport goods around the UK, with the Road Haulage Association estimating a shortage of up to 100,000 roles with Covid, Brexit and tax issues all exacerbating labour problems for the industry.
The Scottish Wholesale Association has said that while an ageing population of drivers had been a problem for some time, the situation had been exacerbated by EU nationals going home after Brexit and the impact of Covid.
CJ Lang, however, has recruited several new drivers and warehouse staff in recent weeks to start module one of its Driver Apprenticeship Scheme, working with specialist GTG training. The wholesaler’s logistics division is also working with GTG on a Modern Apprenticeship Scheme in Driving Goods Vehicles (Level 3) to help fill the future skill shortage of HGV drivers.
The firm said that while it had not experienced a shortage of drivers, it recognised that with the business growing year on year and with an ageing workforce it needed to tap into its existing talent base.
Alan Brown, CJ Lang distribution centre manager, said: “As part of our development programme we believe that, with the right skills, a few of our colleagues can be our HGV drivers of tomorrow.
“The scheme facilitates this progression from warehouse to distribution plus all our HGV Class 2 drivers will be upskilled to HGV 1.
“We recognise that within our internal workforce we have an existing talent base and we are delighted to have the opportunity to invest and develop their skills to be our drivers of tomorrow.
“Our vision for the future is for our multi-drop drivers to have a flexible range of logistics skills and be upskilled to HGV 1 with a nationally-recognised qualification in Driving Goods Vehicles (Level 3).”
The CJ Lang scheme is available to staff aged between 18 and 24.