First of its kind apprenticeship pilot programme for young drivers in Northern Ireland.

AGRO Merchants launched an exciting new HGV Apprenticeship programme – a first of its kind in Northern Ireland for Articulated vehicle driving. The programme will offer candidates the opportunity to achieve an accredited “driving goods vehicles” certificate whilst also receiving the practical training needed to pass the vocational test to drive a HGV. The programme will be piloting starting July 31st and offer a role for up to 30 candidates who meet the eligibility criteria. This initiative is under the provision of Apprenticeship NI. AGRO has over 230 vehicles and 580 trailers in its fleet at AGRO Merchants Lurgan and upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, candidates will receive full time employment, traveling around Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe.

Laura Casey, HR Manager at AGRO Merchants Lurgan, explains how important this step is for the business and for the industry as a whole: “It is a difficult time for all local businesses in Northern Ireland to source HGV drivers to service the current supply demanded from the industry. With the average age of a HGV driver being around 53, there will come a time in the near future, when retirement will be a cause of concern.”

“This apprenticeship programme is a fantastic way to open the door to the next generation of drivers. Although many hauliers & insurance companies have typically shied away from young drivers, we have received the full backing of our insurance provider, who sees the extensive training opportunity as a benefit to our overall fleet safety.”

“Our belief is that if we train our apprentices to the highest possible standard and expect the best from the beginning, they will be able to maintain this high quality throughout their careers. Our programme will also pull on the vast amounts of knowledge and experience of our current talent by providing a mentor to each apprentice along the way. This also helps to pull the team together and make it a collective effort in bringing through the next generation.”

Steven Campbell, Head of Servicing & Compliance has been gearing his team up for the challenge. “In preparation for this new programme, we have added additional experienced resources to our driver training team and are excited to work in collaboration with a local training partner to make the initiative a success.”

George Lee, Operations Director, said “We are really proud to launch this innovative apprenticeship programme.  AGRO has always had a solid base of drivers, but this new scheme builds a sustainable pool for the future and presents us with the opportunity to expand the business further and offer our customers an even better service. I am also really excited to see how the training initiative can improve the overall safety of our fleet, as this is something that is extremely important to us as a company.”

To find out more information about the programme and how to apply, contact