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Smart launches driver division to address UK shortages

Staffing firm Smart Solutions has launched a division dedicated to driver recruitment to address a shortage of qualified drivers for waste management across the UK.

The company said the driving unit, which primarily caters to the waste sector, has been established after several contract wins and in response to a lack of qualified drivers.

The Environmental Services Association confirmed the shortage. A spokesman said: “Skills at all levels are important to the industry and fully qualified drivers are no different. The industry continues to monitor the situation and to work with the Government to address skills shortages across the sector.”

Smart Solutions said the shortfall has been exacerbated by regulations requiring drivers to hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) on top of the appropriate licence. This policy came into effect in September 2014 (see box below).

The division will take on newly qualified drivers and provide free Driver CPC training.

Smart currently provides 110 drivers a day to the waste management industry and said the figure is increasing rapidly. It also provides 300 loaders a day across municipal contracts. Clients include Biffa, GD Environmental and Kier.

The development of the driver division is part of the company’s expansion strategy after experiencing strong growth last year with a turnover of £56m, up 32% on 2012-13.

Ieuan Rosser, managing director of recruitment services, said: “While Smart was already well-recognised as a leading supplier of flexible labour to the waste and recycling sector, we recognised that there was an opportunity to expand into new sectors.”

Smart has appointed David Edwards as services director of the driver division. He joins from Darren Bell Recruitment, with 18 years’ experience in driving and logistics recruitment.

  • Smart Solutions chief executive Nathan Bowles discussed the company’s five-year growth plan last year in MRW’s Big Interview.

Lack of drivers

The CPC regime was put into place by the Government to improve standards in professional driving across Heavy Goods Vehicles categories 1 and 2, said Paul Cleverley, marketing director at Smart Solutions.

In September 2014 it became compulsory for drivers to hold a completed CPC card in order to drive commercially, but many drivers did not want to pay for courses and decided not to take it. Most of those who did not pursue the qualification were young drivers, who did not have the required five years’ experience needed by many municipal clients, so “the situation bottlenecked in September”.

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