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Behind the Wheel: A Closer Look at Heads of the Valleys Training

Originally founded in 1969, Heads of the Valleys Training has been offering training solutions to the transport, industrial, and construction sectors for over 55 years. From LGV to forklift trucks and everything in between, they are a one-stop-shop for all things driver training related.

We’ve been speaking with Ollie Dunstall, the Operations Director at Heads of the Valleys Training, about the huge demand for driver training courses since the pandemic.

The Surge in Demand for Training Courses

“In 2020 and 2021, the government imposed lockdowns stopped training and testing for almost 38 weeks combined. During this time, many individuals wanted to retrain and so the demand for courses greatly increased.”

In 2023, Heads of the Valleys Training conducted 693 on-road driving tests, up almost 150% since pre-COVID levels. They have one of the highest pass rates in the country, at 80.51% for 2023 – for context, the national average HGV pass rate currently sits around 60%.

Working in conjunction with Welsh Government and Coleg Gwent, Heads of the Valleys Training were awarded the contract to deliver fully funded training courses via a Personal Learning Account (PLA). This enabled individuals living in Wales, earning less than £30,000 to access fully funded courses to retrain and improve their employment opportunities.

Heads of the Valleys Training has amassed a fantastic customer base over their years trading, including thousands of local and national businesses, several local authorities, community based funding projects, social enterprises and private customers. They pride themselves on their large volumes of repeat business.

“In addition to our wide customer base, we are finding that more organisations are choosing to invest in their staff by upskilling them with new qualifications. For example, many transport companies are offering a warehouse to wheels programme, taking existing warehouse staff and retraining them as forklift operators or HGV drivers.”

Recent Investment

“We have invested in excess of £400,000 in new vehicles, equipment and machinery to make the learning process as comfortable and easy for our customers. We have also employed an additional 5 members of staff, taking our total number of employees to 16 – up 100% since pre-COVID.

Since 2021 the fleet of training equipment has grown considerably, with the addition of 4 new articulated lorries, an additional 2 new 12 tonne rigid lorries, a new Minibus and various new trailers. Heads of the Valleys Training are now committed to offering the largest and most modern fleet of commercial driver training vehicles in Wales, with majority now being sourced from new.

“The investment has allowed us to be more dynamic in our approach to servicing customers, offering more flexibility with courses and bringing our waiting times down to a more manageable level.”

Heads of the Valleys Training aim is to offer a professional training service, where the customer always comes first.

Driving the Future

It is clear from speaking with Ollie that he has big plans for the organisation moving forward.

“We recognise that individuals are choosing us to help invest in their future, and we want to ensure they have a positive experience. We are now offering free accommodation on many of our courses, to attract customers from further afield.”

So far this year, Heads of the Valleys Training have delivered courses to individuals who have travelled hundreds of miles, as far as London, Wrexham, Manchester and Plymouth.

“We are always reviewing the way that we operate to ensure we are offering the highest standards of training and customer satisfaction.”

 

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