There is a shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers in the UK. This situation has been made worse due to Brexit. There has also been an impact from the economic changes in how we shop following the Covid-19 pandemic. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is the professional body for HGV drivers. It believes there are up to 100,000 vacancies for HGV drivers in the UK. The government accepts there is a shortage of HGV drivers too. It estimates the number of vacant jobs at closer to 30,000. This shortage means more people are looking to become HGV drivers. Not only are the wages better than they once were, but there is also good job security because of the shortage of drivers. We often take HGV drivers for granted but they are a vital service that we need. Without them, goods cannot be delivered around the UK and between the UK and other countries.
What Does an HGV driver Do
HGV drivers might not be the most glamorous job, but it’s an essential one that we all rely on. Don’t be fooled that the job is a very easy one. It is mainly driving but there is also loading and unloading with the lifting required. You will also need to make sure loads are safely secured. The job will also involve maintaining the paperwork for deliveries. You will also need to keep the logbook of your vehicle up-to-date.
Who Employs HGV Drivers
HGV drivers are mainly employed by private companies. Workers are usually connected with delivering large amounts of products to multiple destinations. Some HGV workers are employed by a single company and deliver only to sites owned by that company. Examples of this are HGV drivers transporting goods from distribution centres to supermarkets. Other HGV workers deliver to and from multiple companies. Additionally, often these HGV drivers work for haulage firms. A minority of HGV drivers will work within the public sector. Examples would be those delivering goods for the National Health Service (NHS) between hospitals.
Job Salary for an HGV Driver
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for an HGV driver places the starting wage at £22,000, which rises to £40,000 for experienced HGV Drivers. Another source estimates the average HGV driver’s salary in the UK to be £32,098.87. This is based on a recorded minimum of £27,040 and a maximum salary of £40,950. Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year. As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a HGV Driver in different parts of the UK. HGV drivers in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
How Often is an HGV Driver Normally Paid
HGV Drivers can normally expect to be paid a salary every week or month depending on their contracts.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for an HGV Driver
Salaries are agreed upon between individual drivers and their employers. In larger firms with many drivers a trade union will usually be in place to negotiate terms and conditions.
What Sort of Contracts Do HGV Drivers Have
HGV drivers are usually private sector workers. They will have set contracts that guarantee a minimum number of hours. The contract will usually also allow additional hours to be worked, often at higher rates of pay.
Bonus work is common in this profession. HGV drivers can often make more money by doing additional overtime shifts on additional days. However, there are limits on the number of hours an HGV driver can do in a single day.
How to Become an HGV Driver
Many HGV driver jobs are usually direct applications. Employers set their own entry qualifications. However, you will need to be qualified as an HGV driver to take the job. All HGV drivers have to be over the age of 18. For many companies, however, this may rise to over 21, for insurance purposes. You must also have a category B driving licence. This will then lead you on to apply for a provisional HGV licence. Most employers will also ask you to have a medical examination to make sure you have the right fitness to do the job. It usually takes between 8-12 weeks between applying for a job and getting the right qualifications to work as an HGV driver.
Qualifications/courses – HGV Drivers
- HGV drivers need to have a full driving licence and need to be experienced drivers before beginning to train for an HGV licence.
- The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification is required to drive an HGV of all kinds. You must have a Driver CPC if you drive any HGV lorry, bus or coach as the main part of your job.
- It is illegal to drive professionally without a CPC, and you can be fined up to £1000 for driving without it.
- If you’re qualifying for an HGV licence for the first time, you need to apply specifically for an application to become an HGV driver. You will need to get a provisional HGV licence before you can begin to qualify for your CPC.
- The costs of lessons and tests aren’t too expensive. In many jobs, your employer will actually pay for the training and testing needed to get an HGV licence.
- To get your CPC and be licenced to drive an HGV, several different tests need to be taken and passed. These are explained below.
- There is no established Apprenticeship for HGV drivers.
Alternative Phrases for an HGV Licence
- The Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence is also known as CAT C (Category C). This is the most commonly held HGV licence by UK lorry drivers and it is intended for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, with or without a trailer.
- An HGV-licenced driver is also termed as someone who has a Class 2 driving licence. A Class 2 driver is qualified to drive a truck over 3,500kg, including a trailer weighing up to 750kg. This smaller truck, frequently referred to as a rigid vehicle, can weigh up to 32 tonnes within the terms of a Class 2 driving licence.
- It is important to know there is no difference between the LGV licence and the HGV licence. They mean exactly the same thing. Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is an older term and Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) is a newer European Union term. Since Brexit, the term HGV is now more widely used again.
Parts of the CPC Test
Four different tests make up the CPC test. These four tests are:
- Part 1: A theory test which includes sections on multiple choice answers and also a hazard perception test. The multiple-choice part currently needs 85% to pass. The hazard perception test uses video clips and a score of around 67% to pass.
- Part 2: A computer-based test of seven case studies which test your understanding of common hazards and needs a mark of around 80% to pass.
- Another theory test is at Part 3, which includes parts relating to vehicle safety questions, practical road driving, and some off-road exercises.
- Part 4: This is a practical test which you undertake with an actual vehicle. You are tested on issues like loading the vehicle correctly, following safety rules, and assessing emergencies. There is also an element dealing with trafficking illegal immigrants.
Returning to working as an HGV driver
Because there is a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, steps have been taken to make it easier for former HGV drivers to return to the workforce. In other words, people with previous experience as qualified HGV drivers can return without taking all 4 tests for the Driver CPC. If you fall into this category, you need to renew your HGV licence. To do this you can do either of these things to qualify as an HGV driver again:
- Do 35 hours of training.
- Take parts 2 and 4 of the Driver CPC tests.
Maintaining your CPC/HGV licence
HGV drivers must maintain their licences. This applies to both new HGV drivers and those returning to the workforce. Most HGV-licenced drivers must do a further 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to maintain their CPC. If you are a driver who is aged over 65, you must undertake licence renewal training every year to keep your HGV licence.
Qualifying as an HGV driver
In England, Scotland and Wales, if you are taking certain National Vocational Training (NVT) courses then these courses delay or defer part of the licence requirement to drive an HGV. Because drivers are encouraged to take an NVT course, the systems are joined up. This means if you’re taking an approved NVT course you can drive professionally for up to 12 months without taking the Driver CPC part 2 and part 4 tests. To qualify for this one-year exemption you must:
- Formally apply to defer taking the Driver CPC part 2 and 4 tests.
- Formally register for an eligible training course or apprenticeship that lasts for at least 6 months. This will then leads to a recognised NVT qualification.
- Already have passed the Driver CPC part 1 and part 3 tests.
- Be using an NVT concession for the first time – it is limited to one year.
Once the year is over, you must then pass both the part 2 and part 4 tests to continue driving an HGV.
Which are the Relevant NVT Courses
The courses that are currently counted as NVT courses for an HGV licence are mainly:
- Apprenticeship: Large goods vehicle (LGV) driver C and E (level 2)
- Highfield Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
- Highfield Level 3 Diploma in Driving Goods Vehicles
- ICQ Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
- Pearson Edexcel Level Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
- ProQual Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
- SQA Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles
- SVQ in Driving Goods Vehicles at SCQF level 6
You may be able to take other NVT courses which also qualify. If you are planning a different course and want to check if it qualifies, then contact JAUPT enquiries by email email@example.com. The DVSA is the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. It is an official government body which tries to raise standards and maintain standards of driving.
General Skills Required
- The ability to pass a medical examination before you start working as an HGV driver.
- Physical fitness is essential. This is because there is a great deal of lifting work.
- Good movement, dexterity, and coordination are needed to be a successful HGV driver.
- Readiness to work in all weather conditions.
- Good time organisational skills to make sure you fulfil your quota of pickups and deliveries.
- Good maths skills for working out loads and making sure the right numbers are delivered to the right places.
- An eye for detail.
- Ability to record details of loads accurately, maintain paperwork, and keep log books up-to-date.
- Because HGV drivers often work internationally, it is important to always keep to the rules of the country in which you’re driving. This means keeping focused on borders between the UK and the EU.
- HGV drivers working internationally will also need a valid and up-to-date passport.
Mechanical and Additional Skills Required
- The ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools can also be an advantage in being a successful HGV driver.
- You must be able to carry out basic routine maintenance. This will include oil, tyre and brake checks.
- You will need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.
- Ability to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Challenges of Being an HGV Driver
- Long hours of work are expected. This will often involve night-time driving.
- Loneliness as you will usually be working alone.
- Readiness to sleep in your cab if there are no truck stops available.
- Good maths and logistical skills in terms of managing loads are needed.
- You will need to work well under pressure and maintain patience.
- Readiness to change routes if there is congestion to get goods delivered as quickly and safely as possible.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- Someone who likes a sense of freedom. It is a different living pattern than working in a 9-to-5 job.
- A good driver who is confident on all types of roads. Further, you need to be someone who can work long hours alone and without supervision.
- You should also be a person who can work easily at night time.
- Someone who can follow instructions.
- A trustworthy person who will always keep inside the rules of the law.
- A driver who is always ready to set an example for other drivers.
General Expected Working Hours
Work can happen at any time and often involves night-time driving when the roads are quieter. There are set legal rules for HGV drivers which specify how many hours you can drive. They also specify the breaks that you need to take. These rules depend on the type of vehicle you’re driving, why you’re driving it and also which country you’re driving in. However, many HGV drivers work for blocks of days. For example, a common structure is for drivers to work four days on, and four days off. The rules setting out the breaks that have to be taken by HGV drivers are really important. This is because these rules have been developed to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. The amount of miles you can drive safely is monitored by a tachograph. A tachograph is a device fitted inside an HGV. It automatically records the vehicle’s speed and distance. The rules on working hours for driving are complicated to understand. However, you need to be confident that you understand them. Because HGV drivers often work internationally, it is important to always keep to the rules of the country in which you’re driving. This means keeping focused on borders between the UK and the EU. If you’re driving within the UK, you also need to remember that there are different rules in place for Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK. Overall, you can be expected to work around 50 hours a week.
Location of Work
- Most HGV drivers work on different routes at different times. This will depend on the route and delivery planning.
- The common factor uniting all HGV drivers is you will be expected to cover long distances.
- Additionally, there can often be multiple dropping-off points for HGV loads.
- Many HGV drivers work internationally. Doing this you will take goods out of or bring them into the UK.
As an experienced HGV driver you can become a transport planner. Others can move more complicated and dangerous loads. Some end up as HGV instructors testing and training other drivers.