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West Yorkshire Combined Authority has announced its plans to fund courses for HGV drivers

Leeds and West Yorkshire are so short of qualified HGV and bus drivers that politicians are going to fund free training to help plug the staffing gaps.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has announced it is going to use part of its Adult Education Budget (AEB) to fund training providers to offer courses for drivers – with HGV and medical licenses fully funded.

Tracy Brabin, the West Yorkshire mayor, said the action was taken to help deal with the ‘crisis’ in the county.

She said: “Through the Adult Education Budget, we aim to give training providers the funding they need to train more HGV and PSV drivers and give them the much-needed licenses to improve the shortage and give many local people employment opportunities.”

Across West Yorkshire the shortage is having a serious impact on the local economy, according to the WYCA, with a shortage of bus drivers also contributing towards the current crisis.

This shortage is caused by many bus drivers being drawn towards more highly paid HGV jobs, the WYCA report

Sir Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said they needed to invest in this area to help the economy completely recover from the pandemic.

He argued: “Our economy is bouncing back since the pandemic, however in order to fully recover we must be able to trade goods and get people to and from work. HGV and PSV drivers are crucial in achieving this, which is why it is so important we fund this training.

“I hope by addressing cost barriers we can reduce the shortage in West Yorkshire and attract more people to this vital role.”

This comes after a report from the WYCA has revealed a mass shortage of workers in West Yorkshire in other key industries like nursing and construction.

It said: “Large numbers of people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills that provide a basis for further learning and progression. English language proficiency is also an important issue.