DUP group leader, Councillor Mark Baxter
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is seeking to secure funding to provide a HGV training programme for unemployed or under-employed people.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service a spokesperson for the local authority said: “Council is working to secure funding to deliver a range of employability supports.
“One of these supports is a HGV training programme specifically targeted at people who are unemployed or under-employed to help them secure employment.”
The confirmation of Council’s intentions comes following a request from a Lagan River councillor at Council’s monthly meeting on Monday, September 27.
DUP group leader, Councillor Mark Baxter acknowledged the current lack of HGV drivers across the board and described Council’s position in this regard as a “crisis”.
He went on to note Council has applied for £330,000 of funding from the Department for Communities’ labour market partnership fund and asked if some of that funding could be used to cover the fee required to obtain an HGV licence.
“Could a strand of that potential funding be used to up skill and train people throughout the community to get a HGV licence,” asked Cllr Baxter.
“It is a very costly licence to get, I think it is something like £2,500 and we are at crisis point at the minute across the community in terms of a lack of HGV drivers.
“I know there has been some work done around it but can I get a bit of an update on that.
“How will it look, is that really just for business to up skill their own people or will that be us rolling out a grant programme across the community to get people into employment as HGV drivers.”
Council’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Glenn Barr told Cllr Baxter that rather than replying during the meeting, a council officer would be in touch to provide an answer to his question.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Cllr Baxter said he is of the belief that even if this funding cannot be used in such a way, Council should still seek to invest in its citizens.
“I think Council should role out a scheme to put those citizens who want to do it, through their HGV test,” he said.
"It costs roughly £2,500 and that is out of the reach of most people.
“I have asked if officers could consider using this funding in this way and if that does not work I will bring the issue to Council.
“I think it is very timely and there is buy back for the Council in this proposal. Hopefully it is something we can develop. It is very worthwhile and I will be pushing to see if Council can do it.”