There are opportunities as a lorry driver because there is a driver shortage. If you’re happy to put the work in, you can make money and you have a career path, but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into.
The average age of a lorry driver is in the mid-50s. Younger people aren’t attracted to the profession as readily. Some of the barriers are real and others are based on incorrect public perception.
Barriers to becoming a lorry driver
Long working hours: lorry driving can take you away from home for days or weeks at a time. To make good money you will need to do overtime or have a specialist skill which is in demand. Some people like the life on the road, though.
Cost and time to get a licence: the biggest lorries pay the best but it can take quite a while and some considerable cost to get trained up.
Alcohol and drug testing: random alcohol and drug testing catches many lorry drivers out.
Trades are more appealing: being a plumber or carpenter can seem more appealing as the wages and working hours can be slightly better.
Variable wages: depending on your contract you might have to go days or weeks without consistent earnings
Unclear career pathways: this is more a problem of perception than reality. You start on smaller lorries and you work your way up to bigger lorries that pay better. Beyond there you can have your own transport company and make more money, or you can be a specialist in difficult loads or certain types of lorries.
Public perception that it’s not a good job: lorry driving is a good, honest profession that thousands of people do.
What are the solutions for the industry?
Better wages: the transport industry is engaging in a race to the bottom, trying to source ever-cheaper labour. At some point, the skill and training required to be a lorry driver, plus the heavy investment in machinery and the increasing travel delays will mean that prices will have to increase.
Semi-automation: some routes may be able to run autonomous trucks, meaning drivers get to drive the more challenging routes.
Government subsidies to cover licensing and training costs: reducing the barrier to entry will help get more people into the industry
Transport industry initiatives in schools to get young people excited about driving a lorry: building demand from a young age will help address the shortage
Better alcohol and drug education: exploring the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
How do you become a lorry driver?
The first step is to practice for the HGV licence theory test using these lorry mock theory tests.