Gist is tackling the ongoing HGV driver shortage ahead of the festive period. 

Specifically, a cohort of newly qualified drivers have been brought in to help deliver products to stores for Christmas.

The company’s in-house HGV driver academy launched last month. 

Already, its graduates are already driving across its network, transporting chilled products for customers such as M&S.

For example, Aaron Venables (pictured), enrolled on the scheme and passed his Class C+E examination on 15 October. 

Previously he’d got his Class C licence in 2003 but was yet to obtain his Class C+E licence.

Venables said that money was an barrier to getting his full license.

However, the Gist programme is fully funded by the company.

In addition, it is open to aspiring drivers who are in demand, especially over the festive period.

“When the new training and testing centre was announced, my manager signed me up straight away,” said the driver. 

“I thought the course was really good. 

“For example, it had a very relaxed feel to it, with no pressure. 

Also, my tutor was very knowledgeable and really made me feel at ease.”

The training is done at Gist’s facility in Spalding, Lincolnshire. 

However, once drivers gain their HGV Class C+E licence, they can drive for any one of Gist’s many locations.

Meanwhile, successful applicants will receive competitive pay, as well as travel and accommodation costs. 

The overall support package is expected to save individuals approximately £3,000 when compared to self-funding. 

In addition, the new drivers will also benefit from Gist’s sign-on and retention bonuses worth up to £5,000.

In conclusion, Gist hopes its driver training and testing programme will deliver up to 300 drivers for the business each year.