Brakes vans vehicles

Brakes’ Changing Gears up for top industry award

Brakes’ innovative Changing Gears programme has been shortlisted for a top accolade at the Motor Transport Awards.

The foodservice wholesaler is up for the Training Award at the event on 7 September, with Changing Gears selected due to its approach to providing a long-term, sustainable solution for the HGV driver shortage.

“The shortage of HGV drivers isn’t new, it’s been around for many years, which is why we already had our own programmes to recruit, train and retain the best talent in the industry,” said Changing Gears Programme Manager, Debbie Spear.

“However, the pandemic and Brexit accelerated the impact on the sector and we launched our new initiative, Changing Gears.”

Well-meaning, but ultimately counter-productive government measures introduced to address the shortage – for example with changes to driver apprenticeships – meant foodservice businesses that generally operate using vehicles requiring a Class 2 HGV licence, felt increased pressure.

But with Changing Gears already in the pipeline, Brakes benefited with the programme achieving a 100% pass rate and maintaining a 96% retention rate.

“Changing Gears is a great example of industry not waiting for the government to deal with the shortage, but acting to create our own bespoke solutions,” Spear continued.

“It’s about identifying driving talent and giving them really strong support to not only pass their HGV test, but also become great drivers.

“It allows current and new colleagues to take on driving roles, with their training and testing funded by Brakes. It’s not just about passing the test, it’s about supporting the professional development of the drivers of the future.

“We hold our drivers’ hands through the entire process making it easy for them succeed. Because there are no barriers to joining Changing Gears, other than having a driving licence, it also helps us with the diversification of our workforce and it’s pleasing that a female was one of the very first graduates from the scheme.”

Brakes Changing Gears Debbie Spear Government HGV crisis Motor Transport Awards transport