Apprenticeship Opportunities within the industry blog image: Driver conversing with a colleague referring to a tablet device

Apprenticeship opportunities within the industry

Driving careers have always been an excellent long-term career choice, 2.5 million people of all ages and from all walks of life enjoy long and rewarding careers in the logistics industry, many getting started with apprenticeships.   

There is always a high number of driving job opportunities but with the unprecedented events of 2020 combining with the downturn in EU HGV driver numbers, due to Brexit and an ageing workforce, HGV driver employers are in need of new drivers more than ever before. 

Is HGV Driving a good career choice? 

If you are looking for a career that you can build upon, has lots of scope for specialisation and gaining experience then driving careers are a great choice. 

As a newly qualified HGV/LGV Driver with a category C1 Licence you can expect to earn a basic salary of £18,000 rising to £24,000 when you gain experience and start earning overtime and night working bonuses. Taking a step up in the qualification, a C+E Driver can expect to earn around £28,000 per year on a standard salary. Experience can play a big role in your earning potential as can your accident record and the amount of points on your licence. 

Is there a high demand for HGV Drivers?

The UK's logistics, haulage and distribution network was a heavily relied upon industry throughout the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and rose to the challenge in spectacular fashion. 

The sudden rise in pressure to keep the wheels turning and deliver essential goods to stores took us all by surprise as national lockdown plans began to take shape and shortages of goods started to become apparent in stores across the country. Despite the potential for delivery networks to grind to a halt and for chaos to ensue, the UK's driving community instead took to the roads and kept goods on the move, proving once again that this is an industry that can be relied upon no matter what.

Prior to the pandemic, the UK was already experiencing a national shortage of HGV drivers. This was in part due to a decline in the number of EU Drivers being employed by UK companies in the wake of the Brexit vote, but also due to the number of experienced career drivers retiring every year compared to the number of new drivers entering the industry. 

Generally, driving careers are long-term thanks to the reliable, enjoyable nature of the work, the competitive pay and the ongoing investment that HGV drivers, and HGV Drivers employers make into qualifications, skills and experience. Experienced drivers don't tend to change careers very often, naturally this means that the average age of a HGV Driver in the UK is over 55. With 33% of the national driving workforce therefore expected to retire in the not too distant future and declining numbers of new drivers entering the industry, we could be looking at a driver shortfall of over 59,0002  in a very short space of time. 

An urgent call for skilled, experienced and qualified drivers saw the driving community numbers bolstered throughout the lockdown period but even after this influx of drivers, there is still an ongoing urgent need for people to choose a driving career.

Emerging reports forecasting  these further declining driver numbers has got the attention HGV driver employers across the country and many are looking to start their post lockdown business development plans with a focus on talent attraction and acquisition.

How much does it cost to train as a HGV Driver?

For the rest of us, moving forwards from the uncharted territory of a country in lockdown, means embarking on a fresh career in a whole new industry. Seeing the logistics industry keep the country in motion as well as ongoing calls in the media for new drivers to fill job vacancies, many people have decided that driving careers are the way ahead. However, with an average cost of over £4,000 for a new driver to qualify plus the ongoing costs involved in maintaining a licence, many would be HGV Drivers are finding that the initial investment is a very real barrier to entering the industry. 

Without support schemes, training subsidies, apprenticeships and government grants, driving job vacancies, despite their popularity could remain unfilled for a long time to come unless we can not only encourage new, younger drivers into the industry but also to make it possible for them to do so. 

Logistics UK (FTA) are in agreement and are actively campaigning for better careers provisions within schools and for the Apprenticeship Levy that came into force in 2017 to become a Skills Levy. If successful, this would see the Skills Levy funding all quality vocational training and schemes becoming accessible for more people to upskill, including part-time workers and the self-employed. The campaign is ongoing but you can keep up-to-date with their progress here.

In the meantime, UK logistics firms have not been idle, the industry as a whole is very aware of the need to encourage young new, enthusiastic drivers into driving roles while breaking down the financial barriers to entry, it is exciting to see the number of apprenticeships on offer with some of the biggest names in the industry, steadily rising. 

What HGV Apprenticeships are there?

Top 6 big household brand apprenticeships:

A list of current HGV apprenticeships can be found on the Centre for Apprenticeships website.

For more information on becoming an apprentice see the HMRC website here

Rate My Apprenticeship is a good online resource for doing a bit of research before you settle on applying for a particular apprenticeship. 

To view more details on driving licences and the career path you could pursue, click here.

Can I train as a HGV Driver for free?

Outside of an apprenticeship there is no official government funded provision for driver vocational training but for students, the government does offer Advanced Learner Loans. You will need to check with the school you are planning to learn through to see if their courses qualify for this funding.

If you’re unemployed and looking to get back into work, then the Jobcentre could help you to get your training funded through a return to work scheme. Your first step is to find your local Jobcentre and speak with an advisor who can let you know if any schemes are available in your area. Alternatively, you could try to source funding towards your training from the government under the Career Development Scheme. You should contact the National Career Service on 0800 100 900 Monday to Sunday, 8am to 10pm for more information.

As there is no official government fund available for driver training, if you do not qualify for assistance through the Job Centre or the National Career Service you will need to investigate your options directly with the individual driver training centres, many offer financing options, train to gain schemes and purchasing incentives. 

There is a search function on the Training Mentor website that will help you to find a list of training providers near you. Plenty  of training schools such as HGV Training will offer a train now pay later incentives so take some time to shop around and see who is offering the best incentive scheme before you settle on one provider. 

How do I get started on a driving career?

For details on how to get your LGV licence check out the following links:

Where next?

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References 
1 Logistics UK. https://logistics.org.uk/media/press-releases/2019/october-2019/hgv-driver-shortage-climbs-to-59-000 [Internet] October 2019
2 CTS Logistics. https://www.cts-logistics.co.uk/earn-as-you-learn-driver-academy-delivers-a-solution-to-the-national-hgv-driver-shortage/ [Internet] January 2020

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