Youngsters are the answer to the UK’s truck driver shortage?

  • What the truck…there’s not enough lorry drivers for the UK
  • Call of the cab…motorists can taste how to handle these 480 bhp beasts
  • Even youngsters as young as 10 can get behind the wheel of an HGV with a truck driving experience

Youngsters, some as young as 10, could provide a long-term solution to the UK’s lack of lorry drivers which estimates put at more than 40,000 vacancies.

Indeed, industry leading bodies, such as the Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association, are highlighting the skills shortage in the logistics industry as more people leave the profession than joint it.

The scarcity is being caused by not enough new entrants replacing an ageing truck driving workforce who are retiring.

However, www.trackdays.co.uk believes that an alternative approach to tackle the deepening crisis is to provide youngsters with a ‘taster’ opportunity by booking a truck driving experience.

Dan Jones, operations manager at www.trackdays.co.uk, said: “Going on a truck driving experience could be the answer to relieve the chronic shortage of lorry drivers in the UK as it gives drivers a taste of what it’s like to handle a 480 bhp beast.

“Even more so, it could ignite a passion for trucking driving in a youngster who is given the opportunity to climb in to the cab.

“We have children as young as 10-years-old getting behind the wheel of an HGV, alongside an HGV instructor, and loving every second of it as they get to grips with 16 gears around a specially designed course!”

Adults can also book a truck driving experience and see if they have a natural talent for manoeuvring a giant lorry, possibly with an eye on a future career change.

For more information about booking a junior truck driving thrill, which start from just £49, and other truck driving experiences, visit www.trackdays.co.uk

There’s a fundamental problem here. One of the biggest reason fewer drivers are becoming HGV drivers is down to the job. I can speak from experience here. I’m a time-served C+E driver and you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming over broken glass to want a full time driving job in the UK again. The industry is its own problem. Let’s look at a few of the issues facing commercial drivers:

  • Exceptionally long hours. Most companies expect 10+ hours a day and 15 when they click their fingers. No 7.5 hour days here.
  • Most companies expect weekend working or a sixth shift every few weeks.
  • The hours are unsociable, often with start times at 3 or 4am before a 12+ hour shift.
  • Work life balance – there isn’t one. Often you’re expected to have a reduced (9 hour) break. This includes, travel from work to home and back again, dinner, shower, family time and then sufficient sleep before driving a 40 tonne machine again.
  • Respect. Anyone who has dealt with transport planners and managers (not all I hasten to add) will tell you in general they have little respect for drivers, especially managers that have never driven trucks.
  • Wages. Some companies pay okay. Many pay in line with shelf stacking. Not acceptable for the responsibility of driving a large vehicle.
  • Rules – There are many rules and regulations governing the job, more than many other high level roles.
  • Few jobs have such a high level of attention required for such low reward. If you make a split-second mistake during the 9-10 hours driving you could be doing in a day, people can die and you can go to prison or lose your own life. That isn’t a risk if you’re a barrister!

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a great job but in this modern age, the industry, which classically is very slow to adapt, MUST change otherwise it’ll be too late. The hauliers themselves aren’t solely to blame here. A lot of the blame has to fall to the cost of running a large truck. And most of that cost is fuel, so central government have their part to play in the sad demise of a once great industry.

Ultimately, autonomous trucks will be the norm and truck drivers won’t really be required. But that’s really a decade or two in the future. If the industry is to survive until then, it must adapt and make to job actually genuinely rewarding. When you compare to the salaries train and tube drivers can earn, it makes a mockery of HGV driver salaries.

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