Monday, October 11, 2021

Kent Search and Rescue receives Brit-sized savings

Image copyright Humber Regional Control Room

It started off as a simple request for a trucker to replace a paramedic.

After launching the Temporary Drivers Pilot Scheme to replace some of the 1,200 post-Brexit UK migration restrictions, Kent Search and Rescue called for a driver in January, and now it has finally arrived.

Simon Greenhalgh was one of the lucky men to get his hand in on the scheme, just before he was due to fly out on a three-month tour of duty in Cyprus, taking part in UN peacekeeping operations.

He was given the job that would allow him to support new recruits with essential equipment.

And his employer, Kent Search and Rescue, is happy.

“We’re extremely grateful that we were able to introduce the pilot scheme to support the recruitment of truck drivers, who we feel will be useful in our mission to support local training and casualty response,” said a spokesman.

Image copyright Humber Regional Control Room Image caption Once hired, temporary truck drivers will cover duties including quality assurance and dispatch

Simon said: “It would have taken a while for them to find someone else so if I hadn’t done the pilot, I probably wouldn’t have got the job.”

The pilot scheme will run until the end of October. Temporary truck drivers will be paid £35,000 each.

For drivers, that is not cheap – but when compared to the price of a seven-year-old Vauxhall Corsa, which costs around £12,000 each and has about 80,000 miles on the clock, it is far more than worthwhile.

Image copyright Humber Regional Control Room Image caption And the flexibility to get a job rota that suits his family is also important

For Kent Search and Rescue, it is well worth the financial investment.

They need temporary truck drivers, particularly in the post-Brexit era, when their European Transport Workers (ETW) licences will no longer be valid, since the UK is leaving the EEA.

Although they apply for a permit for every cargo job, every day, this could mean redundancy for many.

And so, like many businesses across the UK, they are looking to strike relationships with a temporary workforce from abroad, including if they can source drivers themselves.

Simon says this was also a major attraction for him.

“When you look at it long term, there will be more demand for a truck driver if you look at what will happen in 2020 and beyond. I can’t say anything definite about what will happen in 2020, but by then there will be significant opportunities for temporary driver positions, and they will need people to fill them,” he said.

Since he arrived in Norfolk on Monday, he has completed his first four jobs, including health inspections.

It means he is already helping people in need, but is it worth the £35,000 to him? He has a six-month-old daughter at home, so he says it is crucial that he gets what he can now – before the financial impact becomes more significant in the future.

But he doesn’t just want to work for the experience, he wants to work for the money.

“My first job is getting paid for this work,” he said.

“When you consider the cost of petrol for a seven-year-old car and the value of a driver’s licence – which you spend a lot of money getting – we have to consider it is worth it.”

And for the moment, at least, he has a job until Christmas Eve.

Image copyright Humber Regional Control Room Image caption And Humber and Kent have made sure drivers who have completed training have been given official certificates of employment

“There’s nothing I like better than getting home to my family at Christmas time. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do this.”

But he says the pilot scheme does not just benefit the charity.

“It benefits anybody at any point in their career,” he said.

“It can be how much it’s worth, how long you spend as a van driver or if you’re never going to get a bigger job again. It can even affect the price of your car.”

Simon adds: “If I do have to do more hours on your person, there’s many employers out there who would put up with it.”

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