An LGV driving career

In late 2021, the Government launched a review into the decreasing supply of qualified LGV drivers in the UK.

The review focused on the training process to reduce the burden on drivers – both returning and new – and ensure it doesn’t act as a barrier to working in the sector, as the government continues to bolster supply chains and tackle the global driver shortage here in the UK.  

In short, the Government’s plans for 2022 are to ensure that the LGV driving and logistics sectors receive the funding, incentives and reputation needed to make the career path appealing and sustainable for the UK’s workforce.

A talent shortfall

In 2021, industry associations said that UK trade faced a looming crisis for industrial and retail deliveries with a shortfall of 70,000 drivers. The triple-threat of Brexit, a COVID-19, and recent changes to IR35 self-employment tax reforms led to acute driver shortages.

Brexit created workforce issues in 2021. According to Road Haulage Association (RHA) who say there are around 60,000 LGV drivers in the UK who are from European Union countries and a high proportion of them have already returned home. If these drivers do not have EU Settled Status, it’s likely that they’ll be forced to return to mainland Europe.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw an inevitable backlog of training for those looking to get into (and already working in) the driving industry, resulting in a backlog of at least 30,000 LGV driver tests.

IR35 self-employment reforms that came into effect in April 2021 resulted in recruitment agencies raising their costs to cover the increase. These reforms brought agency pay/charge rates closer in-line with permanent employee costs, with agency costs passed onto employers at an increase of around 20%. Therefore, hiring agency drivers to cover driver shortages became a much more expensive option. For many businesses operating on razor-thin margins IR35 made using agency drivers unviable.

On top of the “Big 3” issues, the average age of UK LGV drivers is 56 years of age. With 8,000 – 13,000 drivers retiring each year, the problem will only be compounded in the coming decade as those life-long drivers hang up their steering wheels.

Leading UK freight companies said that unless urgent steps were taken to address shortages, strains now visible within the industry would become evident to the public by the end of summer 2022.

Almost one in ten logistics businesses said the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the Covid-19 recovery of their business, according to a report released by business group Logistics UK: The Logistics Report 2021.

With the UK facing higher unemployment, Logistics UK urged the government to take immediate action to unlock access to these careers for new recruits to the sector, in order to support the recovery of the UK economy.

Alex Veitch, General Manager for Public Policy at Logistics UK commented:

“Our report shows that 29% of logistics businesses anticipate that they will be unable to fill vacancies for LGV drivers this year; a further 14.5% expect long delays before filling a role.

“With the logistics industry in urgent need of these workers, Logistics UK is urging the government to provide interest-free loans or grants to train or reskill potential employees and help recruit them into the logistics industry.” This backlog recruitment left thousands of potential LGV drivers waiting in the wings when the UK needs them most. With a large pool of potential candidates available – owing to the nation’s higher unemployment – it became vital to make driver training affordable, accessible and attractive for all.”

Investing in LGV training

In early 2021, Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson confirmed that funding for LGV apprenticeships would increase.

This decision was a strong step towards resolving the driver shortage, but more was needed.

The Road Haulage Association Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said: “We’ve worked tirelessly over the last year to unblock this problem and we’re pleased that the Government has listened. But this is only one element to help tackle the growing driver shortage crisis.

“This move will support firms to recruit and train new drivers in the long term, but the industry needs immediate help as the demand for goods increases as lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

Attracting new talent

“We’re listening to industry leaders who have told us about the issues LGV drivers face,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “We understand it’s vital for drivers to remain fully qualified – but we’re looking to ensure they can do so in the most efficient way possible whilst maintaining road safety standards.

“This is the latest in a raft of measures we’ve taken to support this vital sector and encourage drivers to kickstart a new career in the industry. These measures are working – there is no backlog of LGV licence applications and we’re seeing over a thousand more people than normal apply for a licence each week.”

The review was in response to the 2021 Budget’s announcement that £32.5 million was to be invested in providing better facilities right across the country for LGV drivers, which will drive up standards of roadside parking and facilities for our hauliers and further safeguard driver wellbeing, comfort and safety.

The measures are designed to attract and retain new LGV drivers to the sector, following inadequate driver facilities leading to a negative impression of the industry, creating a barrier to entry These measures are working. Not only are vocational licence applications being processed in normal 5-day turnaround times with no backlogs, over the past 3 weeks, we’ve seen around a 90% increase in the number of people requesting application packs for vocational licences each week.

Free HVG driver routeway packages for the unemployed

As part of the country-wide dedication and investment into creating a more sustainable and attractive driving career path, The B2W Group has launched a dedicated LGV driver routeway package for the unemployed.

This programme is not only designed to mitigate the shortage of skilled drivers, but is also part of our Pre-Employment Training programme which supports unemployed people into long-term, sustainable employment.

The LGV skills routeway course will train drivers to be able to drive professionally and gain their Category C (Class 2) or Category C+E (Class 1) licence.

Whether you have no experience in LGV driving but are looking to get a job in the industry, or looking for a sustainable, future career option, then this could be the right course for you.

Qualifications and benefits:

  • Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Express Logistics
  • Level 1 Award in Understanding Carbon Awareness and Energy Management
  • Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
  • LGV licence package worth over £1,600 to include LGV licence, CPC test, theory test, practical test and medical.

Professional training and support will be provided throughout the 8-12 week programme. An added bonus with this path to getting your licence is that you will be given lots of support to get an interview for a job once you are qualified, with no strings attached.

These courses are funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Manchester Combined Authority.

Our first cohort of learners launched in April 2022 and saw 50+ attendees join our LGV Driver Routeway course. This marked the start of an exciting journey that will see thousands of people gain their Category C (Class 2) or Category C+E (Class 1) licence and at no cost to them.