A combination of the Covid-19 pandemic putting the brakes on driving tests, and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the end of 2020 has led to a huge shortage of qualified Heavy Goods Vehicle – or HGV – drivers. The shortage is the reason for gaps on supermarket shelves and why some big restaurant chains such as Nando’s and McDonald’s have had to close branches. If you’ve got driving experience, could a career on the road be a great new opportunity?
Anyone over 18, who has passed their standard car driving test, can start to train as a HGV driver. Anyone intending to drive a large vehicle needs a professional driving qualification known as a certificate of professional competence, or CPC. There are four separate tests on theory, case studies, driving ability and a practical demonstration on loading a lorry and checking it for safety. The first two tests are done online, through an approved testing centre. The second two tests are done in person. Currently, there are substantial delays in securing a test spot, so don’t delay in booking your appointment. The actual testing only costs around £300 but the fees for learning in a HGV can be a lot more. Many companies, who are desperate for new drivers, are funding training for their new recruits.
Other Checks and Certificates
Once qualified, HGV drivers must complete 35 hours of CPC training every 5 years to keep their skills up to date. Employers who recruit drivers must also make sure that their drivers are legally in the UK and have the right to work here. Health checks or medicals are a common condition of employment, given the obvious danger of falling ill at the wheel. Employers will usually ask to see a driver’s licence, usually yearly, to make sure they don’t have points.
In some industries, especially when the goods being transported are high value, companies will also ask drivers to have a DBS check. As driving a heavy goods vehicle doesn’t fall into the category of regulated activity, all that an employer can ask for is a basic DBS check which looks into someone’s current and unspent criminal record only. Getting a DBS check involves completing a form giving personal details such as name, address, date of birth and previous places of residence, and proving that you are who you say you are.
Salaries for HGV Drivers
Given that there is a huge demand for drivers of all types of heavy vehicles at present, salaries reflect the shortage of labour in the market. The average salary for a fully qualified HGV driver is around £30k, but drivers can earn more for working unsociable hours, if they have additional qualifications to transport hazardous goods, or take longer trips overseas. Some drivers might be able to earn more by taking on short term contracts as a freelancer rather than becoming a salaried employee, but there are obvious downsides to that model of employment too. There is lots of information online about life as a driver appeals.