A leading logistics company is recruiting for more people to join its innovative training scheme, as it seeks to tackle a skills gap in the industry.
Ningbo Palletised Distribution has enjoyed a period of significant growth in recent years, and has identified a lack of high-quality HGV drivers could be a stumbling block in future success.
So Chris Stockton, managing director of Ningbo, has created the company's own training programme to attract, develop and retain drivers. It offers forklift truck, HGV, warehouse, and ADR (drivers who transport dangerous goods) training.
Ningbo, which has bases in Wrexham, Overton, and Shocklach, fully funds the training, pays for the licences, and offers a higher salary than other schemes.
Following initial success of the programme, which has already seen three employees progress from warehouse to HGV driver, the firm is keen to recruit apprentices as well as quality experienced workers and drivers.
One of the first members of staff on the scheme, Steve Lee, joined the company in March 2016 as a warehouse operative. Ningbo paid for all Steve's training and licences, and he is now a full-time HGV driver.
The promotions and associated increases in pay have enabled Steve to buy his first property - a three-bed house in Ellesmere, North Shropshire.
The 47-year-old said: "I wouldn't have been able to get my various licences without Ningbo funding the training and related costs. And without the increases in pay, I wouldn't have been able to get on the property ladder. Ningbo hasn't just given me a career, it's given me the opportunity to own my own home. I jumped at the chance to go through the training and the team have been incredibly supportive. I really enjoy the job as I like being out on the road and I get to see and meet a lot of different places and people."
The national minimum wage for an apprentice under 19 years old or in their first year is £3.50 per hour. However, Ningbo is offering £5 per hour with all training paid for year one, potentially rising to £13 per hour for ADR night drivers.
Chris Stockton said: "Our training programme is open to apprentices and experienced workers. Pay is dependent upon experience. It allows young and older people to go from the warehouse to HGV driver in a planned and comprehensive training scheme with a pay grade to suit their age and experience. We are keen to develop a strong team of high-quality drivers to support our growth plans. An apprenticeship isn't the only pathway and I urge anyone interested to get in touch to find out more. The three drivers we have initially trained started on the warehouse pay grade at £8.50 per hour. I'd like to start some younger people in principal to offer careers in our logistics industry. We are thrilled we have been able to support Steve in his quest to not only secure a career he enjoys, but to get on the property ladder."
Ningbo Palletised Distribution is expanding and set up an additional 25,000 sq ft warehouse in Wrexham in November as part of its growth plans.
It is part of the Ningbo Group. Sister business Ningbo Furniture, is a supplier of contract furniture.