The lack of lorry drivers in the UK is a huge problem with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimating a shortage of 100,000 qualified chauffeurs. Measures to address the scarcity of manpower include issuance of temporary visas to allow foreign labor and increase in the number of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) examiners. Another important development is the offer of free intensive ‘boot camps’ and training courses. In the West Midlands, aspiring lorry drivers can now apply for a training grant fully financed by the Department for Education.
Government initiatives to support the haulage industry
One of the reasons why the haulage industry is not attracting enough applicants is the poor working hours. Lorry drivers work long periods leading to an imbalance between life and work. The hours are also unpredictable, and the pay is not that great. Although regulations exist to limit the number of hours a worker can drive and the minimum rest time, the government’s latest plan is to extend lorry driver hours to ease the labor shortage. Driving regulations relaxation will be extended from 9 January to 6 February to due to the omicron variant and the increase in sickness absence. Unite, the union representing HG drivers reacted saying that this will not solve the problem. Instead, it advocates for better pay and conditions.
This is why the opportunity to receive free training in the West Midlands region is good news. Qualified drivers can get starting salaries of up to £40,000 per annum or more for employees driving hazardous goods. According to James Clifford who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HGVC, the initiative of the government is a wonderful opportunity for those who hope to become HGV drivers. The new fund from the Department for Education will attract more people to join the industry. Businesses in the West Midlands will also benefit as the region needs more drivers.
How to benefit from the training courses
Any person with a driving licence aged 19 years or over can join the Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving. Women, ethnic minorities, and younger drivers are encouraged to apply. People who are unemployed or are ex-offenders can also join. Applicants should head to hgv.academy and register. Note that the bootcamps are fully funded for a limited number of applicants.
One of the courses offered at the Academy is a beginner’s course for novice drivers who are seeking an HGV licence. Upon completion, the trainee will earn a CAT C licence allowing them to drive a rigid body vehicle above 7.5 tons. Existing CAT C licence holders can also upgrade their qualifications to CAT C+E/Class 1. With this type of licence, they can drive vehicles over 7.5 tons plus a detachable trailer. Drivers who are transporting dangerous and hazardous goods must complete an ADR Hazardous Goods Training. Lastly, the Academy also offers refresher courses to drivers who need to update or improve their skills and confidence behind the wheel.
Driver shortage is a problem in the West Midlands that affects businesses and the movement of goods. The good news is funds are offered by the government to train and increase the pool of HGV drivers.