Newly Qualified HGV Drivers – The Saviour of the HGV Market?

In August 2020 I published an article, on this platform, with my take on the HGV driver market calling out the crisis eight months before the problems started.

Sadly, for our industry, the problems started to manifest, as predicted, in April 2021.

As an HGV recruiter, we swung from daily HGV driver calls looking for work to clients (old and new) reaching out for drivers.

Throughout April and May client calls intensified, in 23 years as a recruiter, across different sectors, I have never witnessed a market turn, and so quickly.

The problems I addressed last August, maybe the first person to do so highlighted three main challenges ahead namely a lack of new drivers, the impact of Brexit affecting foreign driver supply and IR35.

All three combined to create the perfect storm and market we are now all working in.

No McDonald’s milkshakes for me for while….

Much has been written on these issues over the preceding months. It is hard to go a day without hearing something across mainstream media discussing these pressing issues.

What is clear (for now), to quote Theresa May“Brexit means Brexit”

Despite calls from leading Hauliers, Supermarkets, and Trade Bodies the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has repeatedly denied offering short term visas to foreign drivers urging the industry to focus on recruiting more British staff.

And here is where, in my opinion, things start to get interesting.

This crisis has led to wage wars with companies competing to offer higher salaries and attractive signing on bonuses. Longer-term I am not sure this is sustainable – I will publish another article shortly addressing this.

For the first time, in my ten years in the sector, we are recruiting roles upwards of £45K per year.

18 months ago, this would have been unheard of aside from very specialist HGV roles.

This wage inflation, coupled with furlough ending at the end of this month will, I believe, see the biggest shift in the UK labour markets for over 30 years.

People that would have historically never considered training to become an HGV Driver will start to look at salaries and think “maybe this can be a future career for me”

We have already started to see HGV Training companies witness huge increases in enquiries, from a larger cross-section of the working demographic including former airline pilots and pastors.

To meet this demand, we urgently need more HGV Instructors, and the government are looking at ways to speed up the training and testing for new drivers to come to market quicker.

Assuming we speed up the process and test quicker, what is clear, is that now more than ever newly qualified HGV drivers will be one of the main long-term solutions to solving this unprecedented crisis.

I have always been passionate about newly qualified HGV Drivers.

For the last ten years, my business, The HGV Recruitment Centre, has been a market-leading company specialising in newly qualified drivers.

Each year we engage with many thousands, across the whole of the UK, who self-fund their training who then to look get to work.

We have worked with clients large and small delivering newly passed HGV driver programs.

Just a small selection of these clients includes XPO Logistics, The Co-op, Travis Perkins, Jewson, and Best Food Logistics.

I have witnessed first-hand attitudes on hiring NQD’s change for the positive over recent years, now more than ever, we are seeing clients realise these drivers are the future of a wounded sector.

With HGV training now up and running, I would implore logistics businesses to get ahead of the curve and put processes in place to hire new drivers just as they qualify, or ideally as they are about to pass.

We have some forward-thinking clients who are interviewing drivers just about to pass, with a view to offering them a role as soon as they pass and have their 3 cards in hand.

Don’t wait to address this problem, think now about NQD programmes and hiring the very best talent before, or as soon as they pass.

We have the reach, exposure (to the HGV Training Markets) and experience to deliver volume-based NQD programmes with ten years experience working with new drivers.

If you don’t look to hire these drivers, bringing them in the right way, trust me when I say someone else will result in deeper recruitment issues for those that don’t moving into next year.

Thanks for reading