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How to Encourage Younger Generations to Get into a Career in HGV

During the pandemic, shortages of staple goods made the headlines. Unless the UK manages to recruit both more and younger drivers, lack of goods in stores may become a long-term problem.

By Andrea EastonPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
How to Encourage Younger Generations to Get into a Career in HGV
Photo by Christian Chen on Unsplash

Driver numbers in statistics

A specialist within the commercial transport industry; Emma Tyrer, Head of Operations and Finance at Fleet Ex said, “The pandemic has made it difficult to get statistics from the last few years. In 2018, however, the logistics sector added about 200K jobs. Only some of these were for driving positions. Even so, HGV drivers were listed as one of the top three shortage occupations in the logistics sector.

It didn’t help that the number of drivers with a valid category C or C+E driving licence entitlement has been falling since at least 2016. What’s more, valid licences are only an indication of who can drive an HGV. They do not show who is actually available for work.

It’s hard to get statistics on this. It is, however, known that the number of EU nationals employed in logistics has been dropping, slowly but surely, since the Brexit referendum. It’s therefore entirely possible that at least some valid HGV licences will belong to people who’ve left the UK. This will probably become more obvious when the licences come up for renewal.

It’s also known that in 2018, 12% of HGV drivers were over 60 and only 2% were under 25. That gave an average age of 48. This means that at least some people with a valid licence are probably (semi-)retired. More will, of course, follow them. It’s therefore urgent to encourage young people into the profession, especially women (who currently account for just 1% of drivers).

The “young driver” conundrum

Legally, in the UK, you can get your driver’s licence on your 17th birthday. You would have had to have learned to drive on private roads. It is, however, technically possible. What’s more, passing your test on your 17th birthday is likely to be a whole lot easier than getting motor insurance for a 17-year-old at an affordable price.

If you pass your driving test on your 17th birthday, you’ll have a year’s driving experience by the time you’re old enough to apply for an HGV licence. That might lower your car insurance premiums but it won’t help you with your HGV insurance premiums. In fact, you’re probably going to need to be at least 21 if not 25 before you can get insured at a reasonable price.

That fact severely impairs your ability to get work at all, let alone work at top rates. Then there’s the issue of getting qualified as an HGV driver. Although it’s possible to get a C or C+E licence as part of an apprenticeship, not everyone wants or can make this commitment. Outside of these schemes, funding is limited and generally linked to other goals such as reducing reoffending.

Making HGV driving more accessible and attractive to younger people

Quite bluntly, the logistics industry needs to make HGV driving more accessible to young people. It would help enormously if the government would get on board. There should be cross-party support for any move to boost the logistics industry. After all, politicians of all persuasions recognize that its health is vital to the health of the UK economy.

After that (or concurrently with that), the industry needs to promote HGV driving as a career to younger people, especially women. Ideally, this will involve face-to-face sessions in schools, with youth groups and at careers’ fairs. The industry should also link up with other stakeholders (e.g. career-guidance professionals) to educate them on the prospects for HGV drivers.

If at all possible, the logistics industry should leverage its younger and female drivers as “career ambassadors”. Quite bluntly, their testimonials are likely to carry more weight with their peers than testimonials from older adults.


About the Creator

Andrea Easton

Andrea Easton is the Head of Finance and Operations at Fleet Ex who specialise in quality ex-fleet/end of lease trucks and trailers and are global leaders in the trucking industry.

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