New plan for white van man

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The Independent Online

White van man's reign of terror on the roads could be coming to an end following the introduction of an industry-recognised qualification for drivers.

White van man's reign of terror on the roads could be coming to an end following the introduction of an industry-recognised qualification for drivers.

The level 2 NVQ, the first of its kind, has been launched by Skills for Logistics. The industry body, which has the backing of more than 100 freight transport businesses in the UK, said the vocational qualification - dubbed "Carry & Deliver Goods" - addressed a range of skills required of light van drivers, including customer service, delivery routes and journey timing.

Skills for Logistics chief executive Ian Hetherington said there were just under two million light vans on the road, making it a "crucial" sector for the UK economy. He added: "It is critical that we challenge and dispel the myth of the white van man.

"It has become a very unfair tag, underestimating the actual skills involved."

Skills for Logistics said there had been strong demand for the qualification, which is the equivalent of a GCSE, and that over 100 candidates had signed up.

John Bowman, director of policy at Skills for Logistics, said that as well as tackling bad habits, the qualification could help boost recruitment into the industry. "The overall strategy is about trying to add professionalism to the driving job. It's about trying to demonstrate the breadth of the job."

Mr Bowman conceded, however, that the qualification would be unlikely to appeal to some of the worst offenders in terms of bad driving and other forms of "white van man" behaviour suffered by motorists across the UK. But he hoped employers would eventually opt to hire qualified drivers over those without formal skills, which in turn would weed out problem drivers in the long term.

One employer, who has already enrolled drivers on the course, said the industry had been "crying out for these sort of skill-specific qualifications. Any form of vocational training that improves our ability to operate in the global market- place has got to make good business sense."

Skills for Logistics is part of the Skills for Business Network, and is supported by a variety of heavyweight trade bodies, including the Transport and General Workers Union and the Road Haulage Association.

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