Powerhouse Logistics: “The skills bootcamps helped us pivot our business”

Hudson Bell
16 October, 23

Much has been written about the benefits of the Government’s Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving for aspiring HGV drivers. The programmes have been significant and have led to thousands of new drivers securing their licenses, with many taking up new roles in the logistics sector.

At the same time, the scheme, extended in April, offers significant opportunities for employers. We recently took advantage of the funding to help us pivot the business and begin offering haulage services to the renewable energy sector. So how did this come about, and how can other employers take advantage of the scheme?

At Utiligensia Limited, we successfully operated a family outfit in the renewable energy sector, providing specialist personnel and technical resources to a range of clients, specialising in supply chain management and procurement services.  The renewables sector is fast-growing. One recent report suggested that the UK could become a green energy superpower, with the potential to unlock “£70bn every year by generating enough clean electricity to become a major exporter of energy to mainland Europe” According to the UK Government, renewables’ “share of total electricity generation” reached a record 47.8 per cent in Q1 2023.

Having built up a strong network in the sector, we have been considering how we might expand our services in this growing market. Given our previous experience in providing personnel, alongside our awareness of the long-term driver shortage impacting businesses across the economy more broadly, we felt that haulage offered a significant opportunity. As we put these ideas and plans into practice we learnt about the Government’s Skills Bootcamp scheme.

The Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving are flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills. First launched in December 2021, the programme has been extended for a further 12 months until 31 March 2024. For employers, the schemes offer a 70% contribution to HGV driver training through funding from the Department for Education.

As the lead training provider on the Government’s Skills Bootcamps, we partnered with HGVC, to train three drivers, two from novice to Class C license, and one Class C to Class C+E license. This allowed us to upskill two existing members of staff while bringing on board one recruit. For existing staff members, it was an opportunity to broaden their skills and career prospects, opening up opportunities for significant salary increases. It’s also worth noting that one is a woman and the other two are men under the age of 25 – not your stereotypical HGV driver.

Of course, the funding was a draw. Training is expensive, so Government funding removed a barrier. There were also benefits in HGVC managing the administrative burden of training. HGVC looked after the whole process, end to end, from medical and licence application to theory and practical training. Having spent some time looking into these before coming on board with the Skills Bootcamp, it is complex to manage all of these separate aspects, particularly as a new entrant into the HGV driving industry.

All three trainees have completed the course and are enjoying life as HGV drivers. Currently we operate a small fleet and offer general haulage services to clients covering all areas of the UK, on a 24/7 basis. As we grow the business, the aim is to leverage our industry network in renewables and build a client base in this sector, where our drivers could be delivering a wide range of specialist components to renewable energy operators, from turbine blades to gearboxes, transformers and beyond. We’ve since rebranded our business to become Powerhouse Logistics and we’re looking to expand our haulage services to become the main source of revenue for the company.

For other employers looking to take advantage of the Bootcamps, it’s a straightforward process and one we would recommend.

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