The UK has faced chaos as fuel shortages have led to Brits going to extremes in order to fill up their tanks, including filling up plastic bags and having brawls at petrol stations.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempting to assure the nation that the situation is ‘stabilising’ and the army being brought in to help drive tankers, there are still queues in some parts of the country, and petrol stations left without fuel.
The shortages have been caused by a lack of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers to deliver fuel to petrol stations, rather than a lack of availability.
The HGV driver shortage is due to a range of factors: as well as a backlog of HGV driving tests due to the pandemic, many workers left due to reduced hours and furlough – while Brexit led to some EU workers losing the right to work in Britain.
Although temporary visas are being offered to up to 5,000 drivers until the end of February, just 127 people are said to have applied so far.
With an urgent need for drivers, just how do you go about becoming one, how long does it take – and what do you stand to earn?
How long does it take to become an HGV driver?
Although the practical training only takes five days, the entire training process takes a little longer, as you’ll also need to acquire an HGV licence.
That can take around 8-10 weeks – and there are different types of licence, which vary depending on the weight of the vehicles you are planning to drive.
You’ll need to be aged 18 or over – while many job ads for lorry driving roles require you to have held a UK, Northern Irish or EU driving licence for at least 12 months.
You can find out more information on the available HGV licences and other requirements at the Government’s website.
How much do HGV drivers earn?
The average salary for an HGV driver ranges between £28,000 to £32,500 according to job site Totaljobs.
While some jobs are full-time, others are part-time or paid hourly in contract roles.
Some active listings offer hourly rates of £17 for part-time hours, while others give £12.50 per hour, and some trainee roles pay £10 an hour.
The salary is dependent on a range of factors including the company, hours of work (both length and the time of day as many work overnight), and the type of vehicle they will be driving.
Astonishingly, some of the salaried jobs require drivers to work for over 50 hours a week, too.
How to become an HGV driver and how much does the licence cost?
As well as your driving licence, you also need to get a professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
You’ll also need to pass a medical exam to ensure you don’t have medical conditions that could prevent you from being able to drive safely. Your doctor will need to fill in a DVLA form as part of the process.
To get the CPC, you will need to pass four tests or have acquired rights if you got your vocational Category C, C1, C+E or C1+E licence before 2009.
The total HGV cost will cost you between £250 and £300.
These are the four parts of the CPC test, according to gov.uk:
CPC part 1 test: Theory
First, you’ll need to take the CPC theory test, which is made up of two parts – multiple choice and hazard perception.
You’ll need to get at least 67 out of 100 to pass.
CPC part 2 test: Case studies
The next part is the case studies section of the CPC test, where you’ll analyse seven short stories ‘based on situations you’re likely to come across in your working life’.
You’ll be asked up to eight multiple-choice questions for each case study and will need to get a minimum of 40 out of 50 to pass.
CPC part 3 test: Driving ability
Your practical test can only be taken after passing your theory test and will last for one hour and 30 minutes.
It involves vehicle safety questions, practical road driving and off-road exercises. You can carry on if you make a mistake during the test unless it’s a mistake that leads you to fail, after which your driving examiner will direct you back to the driving test centre.
To pass, you will need to have made 15 or fewer driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults.
CPC part 4 test: practical demonstration
You’ll need to have passed CPC part two before this step, and will be tested on being able to:
- Load the vehicle following safety rules and to keep it secure
- Stop trafficking in illegal immigrants
- Assess emergency situations
- Reduce physical risks to yourself or others
- Do a walkaround vehicle safety check
The test is made up of five topics from the CPC syllabus, each carrying a maximum score of 20. To pass, you need to get at least 15 out of 20 points for each topic area and a score of at least 80 out of 100 overall.
Upon passing you’ll be sent a Driver CPC card and you must carry this at all times while driving your HGV.
Every five years, you’ll need to take 35 hours of Driver CPC training to keep driving professionally.
Due to the HGV driver shortages, the government has promised to make it easier for people to qualify.
The DVLA plans to do this by making up to 50,000 more HGV driving tests available annually, along with giving up to 4,000 people the opportunity to be trained in the vocation in short intensive courses.
The government is also proposing to offer a temporary visa scheme for foreign workers looking to work as lorry drivers to ease the crisis.
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