Ministers Harris and Naughton announce new apprenticeship to attract next generation of commercial drivers.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton have today launched a new apprenticeship in Transport Operations and Commercial Driving.


The apprenticeship programme is a two-year programme, which will provide the opportunity for a Higher Education qualification as well as their professional driving qualification. 


The apprenticeship is backed by a range of key stakeholders, including lead proposer Freight Transport Association Ireland, Co-ordinating provider Atlantic Technological University, the Health and Safety Authority, Insurance Ireland and CILT.


Speaking today, Minister Harris said:  “12 months ago, Aidan Flynn at FTA Ireland came to meet Minister Naughton and me to discuss this new Transport Operations and Commercial Driver Apprenticeship.


“And a year later, we are here announcing it has finally commenced.


“That is what we need- industry and education working together to address the skills shortages we have.


“Under this programme, apprentices are employed by a Business for the duration of the two –year Programme and will earn as they learn.


“But in addition to this, apprentices will participate in Lectures in ATU Sligo. This is good news for our economy, good news for businesses and good news for education.”


Minister in the Department of Transport, with special responsibility for international transport and logistics, Hildegarde Naughton, said “This new apprenticeship is an excellent example of a positive collaboration by industry, the education sector and Government to address the challenges currently facing the road freight sector. The professionalisation of the industry and the creation of clear career pathways will attract new entrants to consider a career in freight and logistics.


“The ongoing crisis in Ukraine, coming on top of Brexit and Covid, reminds us of the importance of a fully functioning supply chain, and of the critical role that those working in logistics and transport, including drivers, play every day in bringing essential supplies into and around the country. Their work underpins our key infrastructure, supports Irish business and industry, and enables the maintenance of economic and social activity for the good of all citizens and for society as a whole.


“I hope in particular that the Transport Operations and Commercial Driving Apprenticeship will serve as a springboard for the diversification of the workforce in the freight sector and attract more women into the industry.’


Currently the average age of commercial vehicle drivers is over 50 with only 2% of those holding a commercial vehicle license being women.  The launch of this new apprenticeship hopes to attract a new generation to the industry with more women HGV drivers.  


Mary-Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office said: “We are delighted to see a further national apprenticeship now on offer for the freight sector and wish the very best to the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, all of their members and the training provider Atlantic Technological University Sligo as they get the first intake to the programme underway.


“The announcement of these exciting new apprenticeships, as well as the recent launch of the gender-based bursary and apprentice employer grants, really shows the pace of change in the sector is accelerating.” 


Aidan Flynn, Chief Executive at FTA Ireland said: “Road transport is critical to the continued success of Ireland’s supply chain since it accounts for almost 99% of inland freight movements across the country.


“Yet the pressures on talent to join other careers is placing increasing pressure on recruitment for the sector, which is now struggling to recruit a diverse workforce and has suffered long standing skills shortages as a result.


“Apprenticeships are a proven means for new recruits to join a sector while still learning during their workplace training, and we are confident that this new apprenticeship – the 65th launched nationwide – will attract new employees to our vibrant industry and ensure that they can take up one of the many jobs currently on offer once qualified.”