The logistics industry has been facing a skills shortage in many areas for some time, not least when it comes to LGV drivers. So how can Instructor training play a part in tackling this issue and help employers fill essential LGV driver roles? We asked RTITB Instructor Academy Manager Simon Docherty.
Firstly, why is it hard to recruit LGV drivers?
The latest estimates suggest that there is a shortfall of more than 60,000 drivers in the UK, so it’s no wonder that many businesses are struggling to fill LGV driver roles. There were also reportedly 30,000 vocational driver training examination slots lost in 2020 due to Covid-19 which has slowed down availability of qualified candidates even further.
Let’s not forget that BREXIT has played a part too. The UK previously relied on recruiting drivers from elsewhere in the EU and that talent pool is more difficult to access now.
But the driver skills shortage is nothing new. With an ageing workforce, the last few years have seen more drivers leave the industry than come into it, and the talent pipeline for the future is limited, with less than 2% of our LGV drivers under the age of 25.
Can businesses fill their vacancies with agency drivers instead?
Agency drivers can be a good option for some businesses, especially for managing peaks in activity and exceptional circumstances – such as the logistics boom of Covid-19. However, agency workers come at a cost, as there are recruitment agency fees to be paid. They also don’t come with the in-depth knowledge of your business’ specific operations and it can be a time investment as well to get them up to speed.
The new IR35 tax rules are also potentially troublesome in this regard. Tax and national insurance contributions for agency drivers will go up, so recruitment agencies are likely to need to increase their fees to cover this. Some reports suggest that employers may see a cost increase of 20%. This is one reason why many supply chain organisations are considering employing drivers directly.
Is it better to employ your own LGV drivers?
There is no right or wrong way to resource a transport operation, as every business is different. However, in light of the things we have discussed, bringing driver recruitment in-house could be a good option for many businesses.
Of course, bringing this in-house also requires a lot of work and the right resource, such as an internal recruiter or HR department, to advertise roles, generate applications, and manage the recruitment process.
However, it poses the important question of how you are going to train your drivers once you have attracted the right candidates. This is where businesses will find it helpful to have their own qualified LGV Instructors working in-house.
Where can I find LGV drivers to recruit?
Organisations may simply look to fill positions with existing qualified drivers. However, with the driver shortage that we are currently experiencing, this is no easy task. So, the approach we are seeing more and more, is businesses upskilling members of their existing team to become LGV drivers. With an in-house LGV Instructor, businesses will have the resource to run initiatives such as ‘Warehouse to Wheels’ or ‘Office to Wheels’ programmes, that enable those interested in changing roles within the business to retrain.
Alternatively, businesses can look at appointing novice candidates that can be trained up. And there are different routes to this, including apprenticeships. Employers can also consider tapping into the labour force from other sectors, where unemployment levels have risen, or where jobs are more unstable following Covid-19. Programmes such as ‘Retail to Wheels’ or Hospitality to Wheels’ may help bring new talent into the industry to fill driver vacancies.
The benefit of having in-house qualified LGV Instructors is that these programmes can be tailored to meet the needs of driver training candidates from different backgrounds. You can also ensure high training standards are upheld which is extremely important for keeping drivers engaged in the course and making them feel valued. This will help nurture a new generation of drivers that are keen to stay in the profession, and in your business – preventing future difficulties in filling driver roles.
Who can deliver LGV driver training?
At the RTITB Instructor Academy, we provide training to equip candidates with the full range of skills and knowledge needed, enabling them to become an LGV Instructor and deliver LGV driver training – it’s about confidence AND competence. In fact, we have just launched a new and improved version of our LGV Instructor course to support employers looking to bring their LGV driver training in-house. Book and see the full course details here.
Being an excellent and experienced driver does not automatically equate to being a great Instructor. Instructors require far more than just knowledge of driving and the associated theory and regulations. They need a specific confidence, and abilities to instruct and coach others in the classroom and in the cab. That includes planning training sessions, understanding different learning styles, and dealing with all sorts of very different personalities. You can read more here about how to select the right candidate for Instructor training.
Many of our candidates are experienced drivers, and training as an LGV Instructor gives them a valuable professional development opportunity, keeping that expertise within our industry where it is so desperately needed.
The best Instructors also result in the motivated, loyal drivers that an employer needs to fill those crucial LGV driver vacancies and retain them for the long term. Drivers can be trained on your specific operations and processes, saving time compared to using agency staff, and you’ll be able to closely oversee their growth and development as a core part of your team.
Bring LGV Instructors in-house now
Demand for Instructor training is high following the disruptions of Covid-19 restrictions, so we urge employers to plan ahead to prevent driver shortages further down the line.
A range of dates are currently available for LGV Instructor training, either at the RTITB Instructor Academy or on your site. What’s more, upon successful completion of a training course at the RTITB Academy, candidates are eligible to register with the DVSA-endorsed National Register of LGV Instructors (NRI).