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The UK Professional LGV Driver Shortage.

The average age of LGV drivers is currently 53. The shortfall in LGV drivers by 2020 has been estimated to be 150,000. It is not good news then that over the last 20 years there has been a 40% decline in teenagers learning to drive. What are the reasons for this and how can this trend be reversed?

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that in 2019 many CPC holders, where their DQC cards expire, may choose to retire rather than renew their cards. So this is very much a candle being burned at both ends, where the young are not considering driving at all, never mind as a vocation and the existing senior and experienced vocational drivers are considering the option of retirement or taking on a less demanding occupation.

Current studies and reports have looked into why learning to drive as a 17-24 year old and owning a car is not such a priority as compared with the same age group prior to the year 1994. Factors such as:

  • Increased use of the internet for socialising.
  • 17-29 year olds spending more time at home.
  • Careers starting later after finishing university.
  • Student Debts.
  • Low expectation of being able to finance a home and car.
  • The high cost of insurance premiums.

This age group are very much engaged with technology, social media and handheld devices. A car is no longer seen as necessary for providing independence, freedom or equating with personal identity. Identities are established via relationships and friendships developed and maintained online. Socialising instantly using handheld devices; communication in real-time without having to travel anywhere and without the expense of vehicle payments, insurance premiums, VED and fuel.

Existing vocational drivers are also beginning to consider if they want to continue driving for a living. With 13% being 60 and above, retirement rather than renewing a DQC card is a definite option. Reasons being:

  • Poor and low quality roadside facilities.
  • Unsociable hours and conditions.
  • Increased legislation.
  • Physically demanding.
  • Other inconsiderate road users.

This kind of employee disillusionment in an industry that is essential for the economic continuity of the UK is in desperate need of addressing if the shortage of drivers is to be reversed. But there are signs that the haulage industry and the Government are consulting on ways and initiatives that will help. Suggestions have been made:

  • Haulage industry promotion to change public perception.
  • Improve conditions and welfare.
  • Vocational training with funding.
  • More and better truck stop facilities.
  • Faster medical responses from the DVLA.

All of the above points are going in the right direction. If a broader audience is targeted for a career in professional driving with improved conditions, welfare and facilities, including full ongoing support and training, the shortage can be reduced.

But one of the most pushed for objectives has been to get the government to approve an LGV apprenticeship. This funded and sponsored approach has been achieved with the introduction of the Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver apprenticeship. This Trailblazer apprenticeship has been acknowledged as being extremely constructive for both the employer and the employee. Recognised as a game changer by some, it leads to an LGV licence and a full CPC qualification for each successful apprentice.

When the assessment for the apprenticeship was made, one of the points within the document published at the time called the “Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver Trailblazer Apprenticeship Approach to Assessment” stated:

the apprenticeship should add real value to the apprentice and the employer, by developing the apprentice to such a point as they’re able to start in a career in the industry, not just get a job”

Licence Link sees this as another step towards improving the road haulage industry and the public perception of the professional LGV driver. Ensuring that drivers are well trained, qualified and supported not only benefits new drivers but hopefully, will encourage more to consider a career in the LGV driving industry.

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