Our Practical 5 Tips How to Navigate Changing Lorry Licencing Market
Over the past few months we all have heard that tackling the lorry driver shortage is one of the key priorities on the government’s agenda and we certainly have felt the impact in the form of fuel shortages or our favourite shops running out of some products. It is all down to lack of drivers being able to move the goods around the country. To tackle this problem the government has announced some planned changes proposing to remove a staged process to acquiring Class 1 licence.
Over the past few weeks since those planned changes were announced we have been flooded with enquiries where people were asking us to explain what this is going to look like in practice; should they wait or should they carry on under the current licencing regime, what would be the costs of the training further down the line etc. Reflecting on all the enquiries and stories, we felt the time is right to share the practical tips that keep resurfacing, shed some light on our thought processes behind the changes and how you can make progress now as opposed to playing the waiting game.
Advice # 1“Think of what vehicle you want to drive based on your work aspirations”
The main contestants currently are Class 2 and Class 1 vehicles. Let’s see what work opportunities exist in the market for both.
As a Class 2 (vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, but must not exceed 32 tonnes) lorry driver you could secure a great job across many different sectors - short-haul to international distribution and logistics. Perfect for people who like to see new things and travel around the country or countries. If you have your HIAB/lorry loader operator licence then you could do pallet deliveries, building supplies etc. This extra crane course could quite easily generate a higher salary. Under current market conditions, some of the employers who are looking for work force would offer job specific training and upskilling as long as you are willing to do the work.
Also, as a Class 2 licence holder you can drive vehicles which are widely operated in removal, refuse collection and small deliveries sectors.
With the Class 1 licence (vehicles with a trailer up to a combined weight of 44 tonnes) typical driving jobs would be for large scale food delivery, long haul distribution and logistics as well as tanker work (latter requires ADR qualification).
Advice # 2“Think of vehicle types mostly operated in the UK”
When deciding which road to take, it is important to understand where the biggest demand of work is within the driving industry.
As per above table, over the past 5 years the bulk of vehicles operated within our country falls under the Class 2 licence, hence fleet operators will be recruiting more frequently for drivers capable of skillfully handling rigid vehicles.
Advice # 3“Think of training costs”
Currently to achieve your Class 1 licence you must pass a test in a rigid Class 2 lorry first before being allowed to proceed through to a Class 1 licence acquisition training. The government plans to allow delegates to go straight to Class 1 test if they wish, without having to learn to drive a Class 2 vehicle first. That means anyone holding a car (B category) licence will be able to apply for a Class 1 provisional licence allowing them to drive vehicles and trailers up to a combined weight of 44 tonnes. We ask ourselves ‘What does it practically mean for people looking to move into lorry driver jobs?’
As the practical implementation of the changes has not been confirmed yet, there will be aspects that may have an effect on the pricing structure, e.g. having to involve another trainer to cater for Driver CPC part 3a test (off-road exercises). What we have seen though and heard from many Class 1 trainers is that the training hours required for someone to become a competent Class 1 driver are going to increase from the regular 16/17 hours required to handle Class 1 vehicles to 25 or even 36 hours of training. You may ask why such an increase? Because current Class 1 training packages are adapted to delegates having good lorry handling basics acquired during Class 2 licence acquisition training and testing. Together with the training hours the delivery costs are also going to go up.
Class 2 licence acquisition cost inclusive of initial driver CPC (Module 4) is in the region of £1400 (basic package) to £1800 (all-inclusive package) per delegate accounting for 20 hours of training and practical tests.
Class 1 regular costs whereby delegates already have a Class 2 licence and experience of handling a rigid vehicle is £1400 (practical training and test). After the proposed changes are implemented it can be anything between £2500 and £3500.
Advice # 4“Think of pass rates”
When committing to the training, it is useful to have a look at the pass rates recorded by the DVSA. Although DVSA does not provide separate statistics of tests taken and passed per different lorry licence categories, they provide pass rates of total tests taken for Class 2 and Class 1 vehicles together.
Of course, there are delegates who will naturally hit the ground running and will be successful, however approx. 42% of drivers who attempt to sit their lorry test tend to fail. The larger the vehicle or their combination (vehicle and trailer), the more difficult it is potentially to pass the test due to the number of challenges during the off-road exercises part and during an on-road driving test.
Advice # 5“Start Now, Get Perfect Later”
Our previous trainee Gordon shares that he significantly improved his life since passing his Class 2 driving test. When asked to describe it in a few words he replied: “For me it’s like freedom, every day is different and you learn to appreciate so much more”
He believes that you don’t have to go for the top-tier lorry category to be able to start now and gradually improve your lorry handling skills and competencies. With so many employers looking for lorry drivers (reminder that the current shortage is around 100,000 drivers in the UK) as a C licence holder you will be able to start well and climb up the ladder.
We hope that you found the above overview and advice helpful. If you have any questions or concerns that are not covered above, please give us a shout on 08000 151642 or firstname.lastname@example.org