Drivers

Lorry drivers are vital, they deliver everything that we rely on in our daily lives from food and drink, to clothing and medicines. We are, however, experiencing a critical shortage of them meaning disruption to supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, and restaurants, with many of our much-loved items disappearing from shelves across the UK.

In reaction to this, it has been reported that many companies have started to offer higher salaries as well as attractive sign on bonuses to drivers in the hope of enticing new talent and retaining their current workforce.

For many people, driving can be a rewarding and enjoyable career, and with many improvements across the industry such as technological developments and better pay, now could be a great time to consider driving as a career. The job offers more flexibility than you might think too, with drivers able to choose between travelling the world or staying closer to home to deliver locally, there’s something out there for everyone and you’ll never be out of work.

For National Lorry Week, we speak to Mark Taylor, the RHA’s Head of Training and Sales – England and Wales, about how to get started with driver training, the options that are available and the most cost-effective ways of obtaining your LGV licence.

What’s involved?

First, you will need to be at least 18 years of age and already hold a valid car licence (Cat B). You’ll then need to apply for a provisional LGV licence, where you’ll be required to have a medical to ensure you’re fit to drive.

Mark explains the process: “Once you have your provisional, you’ll need to sit and pass your hazard perception and theory test. For Cat C this is followed by training in a rigid vehicle which is typically four days in a truck with an instructor and another candidate, followed by a test.

“After successfully passing your Cat C, your licence is sent away to DVLA to add the entitlement which then acts as a provisional for your Cat C+E. This can take a few weeks to process but then you can start Cat C+E articulated truck training – typically four or five days with an instructor and another candidate followed by test. You will also have to pass a Mod 4 CPC – a practical non-driving test covering aspects of pre-departure checks and safe loading before you’re allowed to drive commercially.

“This is the current process but it’s worth noting that rules around driving training are subject to change. In a move by Government to get more drivers into the industry, new testing may soon allow candidates to fast-track directly to C+E without the need to pass a Cat C test first.”

How much does it cost?

Training to become a driver can be costly making it difficult for some people to enter the industry, but there are multiple options to consider. The current driver shortage means that some companies are prepared to pay for new employees to train, either through commercial training, an apprenticeship, or in some cases through a local authority.

Mark says: “If you can secure a job as a trainee where your training is paid for by someone else then this is clearly the most cost-effective way to get your licence, so it’s worth researching your local jobs market to see what opportunities are available.

“Apprenticeships, for which eligibility differs across each country of the UK, are a good option as well. It’s also worth researching your local authority or job centre as there are pockets of funding available in different parts of the country.

“Alternatively, if you have funds available to pay for your own training then it’s worth researching your local providers and seeing what feedback they’re getting. There are lots of good providers out there. However, try to avoid using brokers acting as a middleman as these often use expensive finance to fund training. I’d say the typical cost of going from a car to a Cat C+E licence is in the region of £3,500.”

What happens next?

“Historically, newly passed drivers have found it hard to find jobs due to insurance reasons with firms favouring those who’ve had a few years of experience. That’s no longer the case. I’ve seen vacancies go from listing two years of required experience to nothing. So, if it’s something you want to do there’s never been a better time to do it.” Mark said.

“My advice would be to try and get a funded apprenticeship as this often results in a full-time position, but if you choose to fund yourself you will need to put yourself about, look at the vacancies that are available and contact the operators in your area as you’ll find most will be recruiting.

“Also ask yourself what kind of shift pattern you’re looking for – are you happy to be working away all week for example and ‘tramping’, or do you want to be home every night and work locally? It’s a case of finding the right opportunity, using your common sense and knocking on a few doors to get yourself an interview.

“Working for a recruitment agency is a great option for new drivers and is a way of getting a taste of working for multiple different operators before securing a permanent position.”

Interested?

If you’re thinking about becoming a driver or would like to discuss your options our team can talk you through what’s required and offer free, expert advice on training, testing and more, to help you make a start in your career. Contact us via email at: becomeadriver@rha.uk.net or call on: 01514 596 230.

You can also check out our driver competition taking place during National Lorry Week where we’ll be putting one lucky winner through their driver training courses for free!