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Peter's in the driving seat

Peter Foley is no stranger to a change in career. He’s already served in the air force, spent over a decade as a priest, and been an NHS social worker.

Now he’s about to write another new chapter, after retraining to become a qualified HGV driver, with the help of Telford College.

Peter, 56, took redundancy from the health service in April after 15 years of service, deciding it was time for a fresh challenge.

He learned about Telford College’s pre-employment programme for Class 2 and Category C HGV drivers, and signed up. The courses are open to anyone over the age of 19 who is actively seeking employment, and in receipt of either jobseekers’ allowance, universal credit, employment support allowance or income support.

Craig Howard, business programme manager at Telford College, said: “Peter completed all of the training for his class 2 licence, and then went a step further, putting himself through his class 1 HGV licence too. There’s a huge demand for class 1 drivers at the moment, so I’m sure Peter will find himself inundated with job offers.”

Peter said: “Although HGV driving is very different to anything I have done before, it’s something I’ve always been a little bit interested in. A lot of people are afraid of change in their careers, but I think it can do you good.”

Before joining the NHS in Staffordshire in 2003, Stoke-based Peter spent 16 years in the priesthood with the Birmingham diocese, training for six years before working in Sutton Coldfield and Kenilworth.

He said: “Going back to the classroom at college was strange at first, but I must say I’ve enjoyed the whole experience. This course provides you with a real career opportunity - it is better to step up and try something like this now, than to regret it later.”

The HGV driver training section of Peter’s course was delivered by Dulson Training, at Hortonwood, which has been working with Telford College on the programmes since May.

Steve Dulson, managing director of the company, described Peter as a ‘star class student’, saying: “Peter was fantastic, friendly, flexible and had a willingness to learn and succeed. It’s fantastic that Peter has used this programme to get his foot on the ladder of a very promising new career.

“We are also delighted that Peter has already made the decision to upskill to the big class 1 trucks. We are committed to giving every learner if they are on this programme or contacting us directly the best experience and results. We are excited to meet the next Peter, and help someone else to achieve the same success.” 

With thousands of vacancies for qualified HGV drivers across the UK, demand for Telford College’s HGV courses is growing.

The college is currently delivering monthly courses in both Telford and Birmingham, and had an unprecedented 54 referrals when it launched a first programme in Wolverhampton earlier this month.

Applicants must hold a full car driver’s licence with no more than six penalty points, and need to bring their licence with them to the information session. They also need to be physically fit, as all learners will undergo a medical assessment.

Everyone who successfully passes each element of the programme receives HGV Class 2/Category C driver training, which includes driver CPC and theory revision support.

Craig said: “The first week looks at personal development and employability skills, plus customer service, while week two focuses on warehouse and storage, and week three is about driving goods vehicles.

“And as part of the programme, Telford College will support learners and introduce them to agencies with local vacancies, while our training partners also have links to major haulage operators.”

Pictured: From priest and social worker, to qualified HGV driver – Peter Foley celebrates his success

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