The first trainees have completed their courses at the new Gregory Group Transport Training Academy, which was officially opened at the haulage firm’s Cullompton depot by MP Neil Parish.
The ground-breaking driver training programme is intended to address an ongoing shortage of new recruits in the transport and logistics sector and will serve all parts of the Gregory business, including milk collection, distribution and palletised services.
Daniel Boardman, 27, Scott Stevenson, 33, and Paul Ayres, 28, all achieved their Category C LGV licence and were awarded certificates of achievement by Mr Parish. Daniel and Scott now work in the distribution business at Cullompton while Paul has joined the milk fleet collecting milk from farms.
Samantha Baker, 34, also recently achieved a Category C LGV licence and has started work with Kay Transport on the Allied Bakeries contract at Willand.
Mr Parish, Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “I am honoured to open the Gregory Group Transport Training Academy. The logistics sector contributes £55 billion to the UK economy and provides thousands of jobs. I am pleased that Cullompton will become a hub for training new drivers and giving local people the opportunity to develop new skills to help them in their careers.
“I think this initiative is great for Cullompton, Devon and for the whole country because Gregory is training up to 100 drivers a year. We need good quality LGV drivers and I think it is excellent what they are doing here.”
Up to 10 drivers a month will be drawn from existing company personnel, suitable external candidates and referrals via the Prince’s Trust. They will initially be trained to LGV Category C standard.
Paul Jefferson, Gregory Distribution’s supply chain director, said: “As a family owned business with a history dating back nearly 100 years, we are immensely proud of our commitment to training and to playing a very proactive role in developing our workforce.
“We value our employees and ensure that every one of our staff has access to training, much of it undertaken in-house. We hope the driver training model we have developed will encourage new recruits into the profession by acknowledging the value of the jobs available and the high level of professionalism required to carry them out.”