HGV driver shortage ‘not caused by Brexit’ says Isabel Oakeshott
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Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers are more in demand now than ever, but the Road Haul Association claims that this shortage is due to expensive apprenticeships and training making it impossible to get enough qualified drivers. The demand for skilled drivers is hiking their pay packets, with one job with Cargo Express advertised to pay between £800 and £850 a week.
Over the past year, Brits across the country have seen the importance of jobs they never thought much about, like drivers, grocery store assistants and pharmacists.
In what seems to be the final move of the pandemic, there is a shortage of HGV vehicles causing empty shelves, huge queues at petrol stations and a potential lack of Christmas trees.
HGV drivers typically transport goods between retail and distribution centres or manufacturing plants, forming a vital part of the consumer’s shopping activities without ever being involved with them.
An HGV vehicle is generally classified as anything carrying goods over 7.5 tonnes, but the job specifics and requirements can differ depending on the product being transported and the routes taken.
Starting out as an HGV driver typically requires candidates to be over the age of 18 and hold a full car driving licence.
Unsurprisingly, candidates also need to be good, attentive drivers as the days can be incredibly long and anti-social whilst also constantly being on the road.
Long distance HGV drivers also have the opportunity to travel and work in different countries all over the world.
Good people skills are a must too, as drivers may have to deal with customers. Finally, they need to be able to complete any necessary paperwork precisely.
Now, adverts on job sites like Indeed are showing incredible potential salaries for HGV drivers, averaging between £45,000 and £60,000 for class 1 drivers.
Currently, the lowest offer for an HGV driver on TotalJobs is £11.50 per hour, still a fair few quid above minimum wage.
However, with such a lucrative career ahead of them, why are applications and candidates so few and far between?
The simple explanation is that recruiters prefer candidates with a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) licence in accordance with government regulations.
Failing to have a CPC while working a job like a HGV driver could see them fined up to £1,000 for driving professionally without the licence.
To receive the licence, a driver must carry out 35 hours of training with a qualified company and it must be renewed every five years.
The Road Haul Association claims that it’s these training qualifications which are causing the driver shortage in the first place.
On their website, they write: “We’re calling for government to make training to be an HGV driver more accessible and more affordable, as we tackle the UK’s shortage of over 100,000 truck drivers.”
Alongside the hefty price tag for these constantly required tests and training, COVID-19 restrictions forced around 40,000 tests to be cancelled.
Testing has since resumed but, due to its time-based nature, the process is going too slowly to make up for last year’s backlog.
It has recently been announced that the RHA’s campaign for Urban Driver Cat C Apprenticeship scheme has been given the green light by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
This new training option will provide the skills required to operate a Cat C or C1 vehicle on urban roads and make it easer to gain the licence, which should see a flurry of new drivers hitting the road soon to counteract the current lorry crisis.
Additionally, lorry drivers are considered to be an ageing workforce, meaning that the constant turnover and demand makes it incredible easy to get started in the industry, but if not enough new drivers join then the petrol crisis could just be the beginning.
The haulage industry is undeniably vital to the economy, and as it tries to become more diverse it is arguably the perfect time to get involved, especially for women.
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