When you think of shortage occupations, medical staff and IT staff might be the first employment areas which come to mind. There is, however, a major shortage of HGV drivers. This means that now is the perfect time to kickstart your career in the haulage industry.
To explain further, Andrea, Head of Finance and Operations at Haulage specialists, Walker Movements, shares her insight into how you can kickstart your career in the haulage industry.
Do your research
Qualifying as an HGV driver is a lot quicker, easier, and more affordable than qualifying for many of the jobs in medicine and IT. It does, however, require an investment of time, effort and money. Financing is often available but you only want to take out a loan if you’re sure HGV driving is right for you, especially as there are some specific and important haulage accessories to keep you and your load safe during work.
There are a lot of misconceptions about HGV driving, so here’s a quick guide to the reality. HGV drivers earn very attractive wages. Newly-qualified drivers can expect to start on at least 18.5KPA. In the short term, this can be supplemented with overtime. In the long term, there is plenty of opportunity to progress.
Overall, working hours are reasonable. On average, drivers will work 37-42 hours per week. The nature of the job means that sometimes drivers will have to work somewhat longer hours. Overtime, however, is optional while regular breaks are mandatory. Women are still very much in the minority but perfectly welcome in the trade.
HGV drivers do need to be comfortable spending long periods alone. They do, however, also need to be able to work with people. For example, base staff will be in touch regularly. Drivers will be dealing with people every time they make a pickup or a drop-off. If they do international work, they’ll also need to deal with customs officials.
Qualifying as an HGV driver
In order to be accepted on an HGV training course, you need to have a full car drivers’ licence and be over 18. You then need to gain a qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). These come in four categories.
C1 ‐ ‘7.5 tonne’ or ‘class 3’
Allows you to drive vehicles weighing up to 7,500kg.
C1+E ‐ ‘7.5 tonne + trailer’
As above plus a trailer that weighs up to 750kg.
C ‐ ‘Class 2’ or ‘rigid’
Allow you to drive vehicles over 7,500kg with rigid body bases.
C+E ‐ ‘Class 1’ or ‘artic’
Allows you to drive any HGV and a trailer, up to a combined weight of 44 tonnes.
Realistically, unless you have very significant prior experience, you generally want to start out with C1 and work your way up from there (if you wish). There are plenty of jobs at this level.
Be aware that even though the CPCs are for specific ranges of vehicles, they aren’t just about driving. They also cover other relevant topics such as the law, safety and basic vehicle maintenance. There are several other skills it can be worth learning.
Modern employers really value evidence of administrative skills and technology skills. Post-Brexit, language skills are also a huge bonus, particularly French. Many free online courses will give you a downloadable certificate which you can reference on your CV.