Dixons Carphone offers £1,500 bonus to drivers amid battle for workers

Carphone Warehouse

The owner of Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse is offering a £1,500 retention bonus to its lorry drivers and the same cash incentive to new recruits as the battle for qualified workers continues.

Dixons Carphone is also offering staff who work elsewhere in the business who refer a friend for a driver vacancy a £1,000 reward and promising £1,500 to those willing to retrain to drive lorries.

In a further measure, the company will meet the cost of training and tests to qualify for a class C1 licence, which enables the driving of 7.5-tonne trucks, to anyone over the age of 21 who has held their UK category B driving licence for more than a year.

Candidates will complete their theory, Certificate of Professional Competence and their practical test while gaining valuable on-the-job training. They will also be trained in health and safety and product installation, so they can put washing machines and cookers into people’s homes, if required.

Lindsay Haselhurst, the chief supply chain officer at Dixons Carphone, said: “Our drivers are a vital part of our operation – our ambassadors on the road who perform the mammoth task of replenishing, delivering and installing hundreds of thousands of products every week, serving our stores as well as our customers in their homes.”

The Dixons Carphone offer is the latest gambit in a battle for workers, which has led some employers to offer signing-on fees of £10,000.

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More than 1.1m jobs in the UK remain unfilled, as the Covid pandemic and the holiday season have worsened shortages caused by Brexit and a lack of skills.

Lorry drivers are particularly in demand as tax changes have prompted some to leave the trade at a time of surging demand for home deliveries, which has provided a wide array of alternative employment opportunities for those willing to spend a day behind the wheel.

Logistics UK, which represents freight owners including supermarkets, has estimated a shortage of 90,000 HGV drivers, including about 25,000 from the EU who have left the country since Brexit. There is also a backlog of 45,000 lorry driving tests, which are expected to lead to about 25,000 drivers becoming available.

The heavy competition has prompted Asda and Tesco to offer a £1,000 signing-on fee for HGV drivers and the dairy group Arla to offer a £2,000 bonus.

The cost of moving home is also on the rise as removals firms are forced to put up prices owing to difficulties in hiring drivers.