Apprenticeship Levy Could Fund Driver Training to Improve Road Safety and Employability

The UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, is urging the UK Government to actively encourage driver training to be provided to young workers through its Apprenticeship Levy, in a bold move that could save lives and provide training and skills opportunities for more young workers.

This follows last week’s announcement that employers of all sizes can apply for a cash boost (of up to £2,000 per apprentice under 25) to help them take on new apprentices and get more people into work.

IAM RoadSmart is encouraging businesses to get on board and make sure driver training is a part of apprenticeship development.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, IAM RoadSmart’s interim Chief Executive Officer, Tony Greenidge, has called upon the Government to consider making it clearer that corporate driver training is included in the list of training activities that can be funded from the Levy.

There are a wide range of driver training courses available to many UK companies – and many can be tailored to meet the specific vehicle specification, utilisation or driver experience. This includes subsidised Electric Vehicle Familiarisation courses overseen by the Energy Savings Trust – IAM RoadSmart believes this enhancement to the Levy would deliver three key benefits:

  1. Firstly, many businesses are unable to make best use of their annual levy contribution and this initiative would allow employers to extract additional value that delivers tangible business and social benefit for all
  2. Secondly, it will allow employers to implement the minimum driving for work requirements, as set out in current Health & Safety legislation. This would contribute to a reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on UK roads, one of the Government’s key targets
  3. Thirdly, with many businesses under pressure to survive and having to consider ways to optimise the efficiency of their labour force, upskilling apprentices helps achieve this objective

Tony said: “Over 312,000 young people have benefited from Apprenticeship Levy funding to help start their professional careers since the initiative was introduced in 2017.

“Providing driver training to all apprentices who will be using a vehicle in the course of their work has the potential to make a huge contribution to road safety. For a minimum investment formal driver training is a valuable additional skill that will enhance their working life and bolster their CV at a time when employment prospects for young people are expected to be particularly tough.

“Around 90 per cent of all collisions are caused by human error and typically one in four fleet vehicles is affected each year. With costs averaging £1,700 per incident* there are real financial and operational benefits for businesses, the Government and the general public.

“Safer and more economic driving helps to deliver positive and ongoing benefits for the environment and is proven to reduce fuel use by up to 10 per cent** as well as helping to cut maintenance, insurance, sickness and repair costs.

“It is well-known that young drivers are the most at risk group on our roads. Improved driving skills and a safer attitude to driving are, we believe, key benefits that will assist young people and help keep them employable in the current economic crisis.

“We welcome the promise of additional funding for each new apprentice taken on by businesses before 31 January 2021 and urge employers to make the most of this opportunity to upskill the workforce.”

The Chancellor has been widely praised for his swift action and innovation in trying to protect the economy during the pandemic. More of this thinking will be needed moving forward towards the Autumn Budget and Tony has invited the Chancellor to contact him to continue the conversation and explore the potential for further developing this idea.

With its Driving for Work fleet training back on the road after lockdown, IAM RoadSmart is encouraging all companies in the UK to support this change. To find out more about IAM RoadSmart’s training visit: https://www.iamcommercial.co.uk/

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