Robert Goodwill MP tested his skills in the Truck Driving Challenge

RHA drives home skills shortage message at Tory Conference

Delegates attending this year’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester were offered the chance to take part in a Truck Driving Challenge on the Road Haulage Association stand.  Challengers were tested to see if they have the high skill levels required to drive a heavy goods vehicle.

RHA urged MPs and delegates to take part in a ‘Top Gear’ style challenge on a simulator, based on a typical 18-tonne urban delivery truck’s journey through London.  Unlike Top Gear, safe, smooth, fuel efficient driving is the key to success.

Stephen Hammond MP (Wimbledon) and industry supporter Robert Goodwill MP (Scarborough and Whitby) took the opportunity to test the skills.  All challengers had to drive with an emphasis on safety, consideration for other road users and to maximise fuel economy, without incurring penalties such as hitting barriers, pedestrians or exceeding the speed limit.

Commenting during the Conference, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This initiative represents just part of our campaign to raise awareness of RHA National Lorry Week (26-31 October).  This will boost the profile of this vital industry with the general public, schoolchildren and college leavers, as well as those looking for a change of career.

“The economy is facing a massive driver shortage and it’s vitally important that we push the issue up the political agenda.  I am confident that giving MPs the opportunity to get a feel for the skills needed to drive an HGV will go a long way to raising awareness, capturing their interest and ultimately, getting the acknowledgement and financial help that we so desperately need.

“There has to be a U-turn on Government’s repeated refusal to accept an HGV driver apprenticeship and we are pressing this issue with Skills Minister Nick Bowles.  Will he be brave enough to take our driving challenge, I wonder?

“Haulage and logistics is an exciting and dynamic industry in which to forge a career and the RHA is doing all it can to encourage new entrants into the industry.  Drivers, technicians, warehouse operatives: the jobs are there just waiting for the right people.”