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PD Ports, the largest private employer in the Tees Valley, has offered six Stockton Riverside College students the unique opportunity to shadow its LGV drivers in a bid to showcase careers in the logistics sector in a further step towards combating driver shortages.

The bespoke programme, which has been developed by Stockton Riverside College in collaboration with the Road Haulage Association (RHA), PD Ports and fellow logistics providers Prestons of Potto, will see students travel in an artic LGV alongside experienced drivers to gain an exclusive insight into life on the road.

With news of driver shortages and supply chain issues sweeping the UK, PD Ports Chief Commercial Officer, Geoff Lippitt, explained how programmes such as this are vital to bridging skills gaps and making careers in transport attractive and attainable for future employees.

“At PD Ports, we have long foreseen the potential issues around driver shortages as we recognised that drivers typically fell into an ageing demographic, leaving behind a huge skills gap,” said Geoff.

“As the largest private employer in the region, and global leaders in the logistics sector, we know how important collaboration is when tackling skills shortages. This programme demonstrates how, by working together, we can effectively challenge perceptions and offer invaluable insights into potential career paths.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer this unique experience within PD Ports and remain committed to actively promoting careers in logistics as an attractive prospect for the next generation.”

Over the course of two days with their respective mentors, students gained an understanding of how to work with EU regulations, conduct pre-vehicle checks, load securing and handle the paperwork associated with being a driver all whilst travelling around the UK.

Following their placements, and upon successfully completing the course, which enables students to acquire their licences and a level 2 logistics qualification, students are also guaranteed an interview with PD Ports for full-time employment, further enabling them to kick start their careers.

Gavin Straine-Francis, 42, was one of the lucky six to spend time on the road with PD Ports, and explained how the experience has left him looking forward to getting started.

A former support worker, he said: “My dad was a truck driver and he suggested getting my licence a couple of years back. I think that planted a seed and now here I am.”

Gavin found spending a couple of days working alongside PD Ports’ drivers offered an insight like no other. He added: “It was really good. The early start came as a bit of a shock but the drivers were all brilliant and were happy to answer your questions and share the benefit of their experience.”

Phil Dorn, Logistics Team Leader at Stockton Riverside College, explained how the programme has long been in the planning. He said, “Although driver shortages are a ‘hot topic’ at this moment in time, we’ve been working with multiple local employers, stakeholders and the RHA for some time to raise awareness about the need to train the next generation of drivers.

“We passionately believe this type of collaboration is the way forward to deal with the training needs of the logistics industry in the region from the perspective of both potential employees and employers.”

For more information on the next cohort, which is due to start in February 2022, contact Phil.Dorn@stockton.ac.uk

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