SEVEN permanent full-time driving jobs are being created in Winsford by managed service provider, Smart Solutions, on the back of a flurry of new contract wins.

Smart Solutions has a growing client list in the public service sector and has won a number of contracts that require servicing in Winsford, leading to the creation of the permanent positions.

However, the firm has pointed out to industry and clients that there is a worrying shortage of qualified drivers, a situation that has been acerbated by regulations regarding driver qualifications that are due to come into effect next month.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) introduced regulations concerning the standard of professional qualifications for LGV and PCV drivers in 2009 to ensure that all drivers across the profession were of a consistent standard. As part of this, as of 9 September 2014, all new professional LGV drivers must hold the Driver CPC certification in addition to their licence to drive professionally.

Existing LGV drivers do not have to retake their driving test but must undertake 35 hours of periodic training by 9 September to keep their Driver CPC valid. And all drivers must then undertake 35 hours of periodic training every five years to keep their Driver CPC valid.

Nathan Bowles, from Smart Solutions, said: "The shortage of large goods vehicle drivers is an industry-wide issue that managed service providers across the country are experiencing.

"As the economy improves and we scale up our national driving division, it is becoming increasingly challenging to fill certain positions, especially LGV Class 2 drivers.

"By way of example, we are taking on newly qualified drivers and guaranteeing our driver workforce free Driver CPC training to help us secure sufficient and qualified people to keep up with the growing demand.

"As an approved training centre, Smart Solutions is hoping that this will help recruit younger drivers in particular, who are finding it difficult to gain the much-sought after two years' LGV driving experience. Without question, it is these drivers that will be the lifeblood of the industry going forward."