The upsides of a driving career
There’s an estimated shortfall of 30,000 trained drivers in the UK’s haulage industry. In other words, there are 30,000 open opportunities for a rewarding career.
A few decades ago, every kid on the street who didn’t want to be an astronaut, wanted to drive a lorry. Kids instinctively felt the lure of the open road and the pioneering sense of adventure. They had toy wagons in their collection alongside the Batmobiles and racing cars.
Many of those kids grew up and achieved their dreams. They travelled to parts of the world their school pals never saw. They became their own bosses, got their own rigs. Some built freight empires. Now they’re approaching a well-deserved retirement. They’re highly skilled, conversant with every regulation and familiar with paperwork. They understand load supervision, route planning and customer service, and they’re justifiably proud of the work they’ve done, delivering the essentials across the UK, Europe and beyond. But the new recruits, the replacements, just aren’t there. Younger people have rarely thought about driving as a career.
Yes, rules and regulations have increased massively. The introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC), a few years ago, has increased the training requirement. Tachographs restrict the hours that can be worked and, therefore, earnings potential. But these measures are, in truth, signs of an industry that’s recognised its responsibilities and the professionalism required to be out on the roads in the 21st century. And here, surely, is the nub of the skills shortage problem – driving is a profession, but it’s still viewed by some as a job for the uneducated or as a last resort. It’s got a poor image which doesn’t reflect the reality of the job.
Let’s be honest, driving isn’t for everyone. Drivers need to be resourceful, comfortable being on their own for long periods, good with customers and happy to handle paperwork. They need exceptional concentration and road-safety knowledge as well as formal qualifications, but in return, they can expect decent rates, good earnings, flexibility and a chance to see the world instead of the same four walls of an office.
And with the skills shortage, there are definite advantages – with the Driver CPC qualification, drivers should always be able to find work (although options may be more limited until a bank of experience has been built up). Even the regulations have an upside – tachographs limit the hours you can work. We’re quite sure most junior doctors would appreciate similar protection!
See the opportunities
Like most career choices, driving can be what you make it. Learning the ropes, undergoing the compulsory periodic training, doing the weekend work that others don’t fancy, are all building blocks in a career path. They’re what you go through, not where you get stuck. Drivers can progress to self-employment, become owner-operators or in time, form their own haulage companies. There are no limits.
Driving isn’t a job, it’s a worthwhile career, and once your perspective shifts, just a little, you can see it. You can see potential, professionalism and pride. And that, folks, is grown-up speak for every kid’s ambitious plan for a job with respect, opportunities and adventure.