18year old Luke Harrison was unable to sit his A’ levels last year when examinations were cancelled by the government due to COVID-19. Nervous of pursuing his higher education college plans, lest they also be impacted by evolving government legislation, he enrolled as an apprentice at BJS Haulage – where his Father, Roy Harrison, also works.

Might the current mass disruption to the education system catalyse a revival in apprenticeships? Beverley Ellis, Director at TRS Training Limited, who provide recruitment and training solutions for businesses in road haulage, logistics and warehousing and manufacturing, certainly thinks so;
‘We have noticed an increased number of enquiries since the government began to announce that examinations would be cancelled; students want to protect their career prospects and are apprehensive about embarking on University courses – with the associated costs and complications with regards housing further adding to concerns- and are seeking alternative next steps that keep them in control of their futures. This is coupled with the trend of employers using apprenticeships as a main tool for either recruiting into junior posts, or developing existing staff.

We are approved by the Government to deliver Apprenticeships and the Kickstart programme which both provide businesses with funding for staff development. Our team specialize in the road haulage, logistics and manufacturing service – exciting growth areas with robust and varied career potential – well worth exploring, particularly in the current challenging climate. We work in partnership with leading industry bodies including the Road Haulage Association, the British Association of Removers and the Builders Merchants Association.

Because we have a niche industry focus we have in-depth insight and track subtle developments and projected growth to ensure our training courses are up to date, relevant and impactful. We also adapt our courses to fit in with a company’s working shifts, as well as ensuring they are fully COVID-proof – for example providing virtual enrolments, training, support and assessments rather than face to face interaction.’

Claire Chivers HR Manager at BJS, where Luke Harrison is undertaking his Transport Planning Apprenticeship, says the schemes are win-win all round. She explains that:
‘there are a range of training providers that deliver qualifications and the requisite training who – with the support of the business – meet the apprentice’s needs.
The Government introduced a levy scheme in 2017 with the aim of increasing the quality and quantity of Apprenticeships and developing vocational skills. The levy was imposed on all employers with an annual payroll of £3million, payable via PAYE and offset against an annual ‘allowance’ of £15k, leaving it in employers’ hands to optimise the scheme by managing their levy fund directly via an online system. These funds expire after 24 months if the company haven’t used them for apprenticeship training.
Significantly more financial support for Apprenticeships was put in place by the Government in 2019, meaning that a levy-paying employer can ‘co-invest’ with the Government to deliver more apprenticeships than their fund can provide. There are also incentive payments to Companies who take on apprentices aged 16-18, and additional financial bonuses for recruiting an apprentice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I think many Companies overlook the business benefits of the scheme, it’s been fantastic for BJS and I would encourage business owners to explore their eligibility.’
Luke Harrison says: ‘the earn while I learn aspect of Apprenticeships was a factor in my decision, but mainly it was because I wanted to be confident that I could be more in control of my learning and life choices for the next few years. I had already done a work experience placement at BJS and really enjoyed it, my Dad works for the company and it’s a growth sector, so it seemed a solid decision really. I haven’t given up on my dream of becoming a footballer, so I’ll continue to train around my Apprenticeship as much as COVID restrictions permit. I’m an Attacker for Wyrley Reserves.’
Luke’s Father is delighted that his son has followed in his footsteps to BJS. Roy Harrison is a Transport Planner and Co-ordinator and says ‘ I think it is great that Luke has decided to come to BJS, to be honest it is really good. BJS is a family business with family values and a great place for my son to be.’

Luke’s Diary – A Week in the Life of an Apprentice at BJS Haulage
Monday
Clocked in at 09:00 and worked with Fleet Controller Adam – focusing on the maintenance of the trucks and trailers that we have, which is an area that I am interested in pursuing at BJS.
I was looking after the agency drivers that come in to support us on a contract we have. I assign trucks and trailers for them to use and brief them on how to do the job.
I did two trailer checks, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, this is simply going round the yard and making a note of what trailers are empty and which are loaded with customer stock, then letting the Transport Planners know in the office so they are aware of which trailers to give to drivers.

I also rang up ORSAM trailers to book an on-site inspection for a trailer which had to be performed within the week.
Clocked out at 17:00
Tuesday
Clocked in at 09:00
I worked in the office and got a lot of the admin side of the vehicle maintenance done, such as printing inspection sheets and ensuring that the Maintenance Planner, which we work off for vehicle inspections, MOT’s and tacho recalibrations etc. were up to date.
I also worked alongside and helped Nichola, who does admin, to log the fuel receipts onto the system.
Clocked out at 17:00
Wednesday
Clocked in at 09:00
I worked to support agency drivers for a big contract. I also did a trailer check and put VOR signs on trailers that were due for inspections for the week so that no drivers could use them.
Working with Warren- a Driver Assessor/ Trainer – looking after the fleet in the yard.
Clocked out at 17:00
Thursday
I looked after driver issues when they came into the cabin
Clocked in at 09:00 and clocked out at 17:00 as usual.
Did a usual trailer check and with reference to the Vehicle Maintenance Planner and Adam, I VOR’d trailers to keep them off road for inspections that were due.
I also had to phone a driver to sort out trailers being dropped off at Renault for inspections that were due as they couldn’t be missed, and trailers that also needed to be picked up so that other drivers could use them.
Friday
Worked alongside Warren and Adam on the maintenance aspect of the company.
I looked after drivers from agencies for a contract that we have; made sure that they had been briefed on work that they were to do during the day and sorted out any issues if they had any.
Did another trailer check and updated the planners so they could assign trailers to drivers faster which speeds up the process.