Following the success of Hopkins Concrete apprentice, Sam Hughes, who has gained his Class One Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence, the Somerset-based company is keen to encourage other would-be drivers to apply for the scheme.

The concrete and aggregates business is dedicated to investing in the future of its workforce, and champions the scheme as a great way of nurturing careers for local youngsters.

This also coincides with an industry-wide call for more government investment in vehicle apprenticeships to address the UK’s national driver shortage. Paul Wright, Hopkins’ fleet manager, explained: “Sam set out to qualify as a lorry driver earlier this year and his achievement highlights the importance of supporting individuals through vocational schemes and the opportunity for more young people to embark on a career in the HGV industry.”

The company helped Mr Hughes attain his HGV Class Two licence, which enabled him to enroll on an apprenticeship scheme with LGS Transport Training to work towards his Class One licence, permitting him to now drive on his own.

The programme is the equivalent to five good GCSE passes and usually takes a minimum of 12 months to complete. With the practical part of the course complete, Mr Hughes can now focus on the theory, which he should finish next autumn.

Mr Wright said: “The apprenticeship scheme is a great initiative, as it gives younger people, like Sam, the opportunity to get real hands-on work experience and attain a nationally recognised qualification, while earning.”

Mr Hughes joins Hopkins at an exciting time as this year the company has invested £5m in a new fleet of Mercedes Aroc trucks, which operate out of its two Bridgwater and Wincanton plants.

The company now challenges the production levels of other large UK outfits, as Mr Wright explained: “We recognise the importance of having a first class workforce, to maintain the quality service that our customers rely on.

“We need to plan for the future and, as many of our drivers are close to retirement age, developing our apprenticeship scheme is crucial. A bit of fresh blood and enthusiasm goes a long way and as fleet manager I am particularly passionate to build a top-class, loyal team.”

Nathan Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Concrete, said: "The team here at Hopkins Concrete is passionate about supporting local people and local causes. Sam is a Wincanton lad and it has been a real pleasure helping him kick-start his career. Qualified HGV drivers can be hard to come by, so the initial time investment is worth it. We now have another skilled driver who is a real asset to our team.”