5th November 2021

Alternative routes into trucking

Since the pandemic began, millions of people have re-evaluated their life and work choices and decided that things must change. That could mean improving work-life balance, remote working, starting their own business or finding a whole new career path.

With so many people worldwide deciding it is time for a change, it has become known as the Great Resignation, and it could prove beneficial for Britain’s beleaguered haulage industry. As demand for drivers grows, so do the incentives, making HGV driving a career path that might have otherwise not been considered by many.

Here we will look at people who took on career changes to become HGV drivers.



From horses to heavy goods - Yazmin Jobsz, 25

25-year-old lorry driver Yasmin Jobsz had been an HGV qualified driver for several years after taking the test so she could drive her horses to compete in show jumping events. After five years, Yasmin saw that a local firm needed help and realised she could help.

With her experiences, she now trains other drivers and is looking to secure a Class-1 licence, which could see her earnings reach £40-60,000.

Swapping the classroom for the M1 - Jason Oakes, 49

Former design and technology teacher Jason Oakes left his profession after almost 20 years to train as an HGV driver. The reason? He had read that supermarket Waitrose was offering salaries of £50,000 for new drivers, as much as £20,000 higher than a teacher’s wage, to recruit new drivers.

Retraining to fill the skills gap - Ben Grace, 23

As an online retail giant, Amazon has been proactive about securing new drivers by retraining their existing staff. 23-year-old Ben Grace, who works at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Rugby, is among more than 400 existing staff members who have joined the scheme

Career Choice was set up in May 2021 in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to identify and fill skills gaps based on regional needs.

From the air to the road - Aaron Leventhal, 37

In an article for Reuters, Laurence Bolton’s truck driving school in South London revealed that they had noticed an increase in unexpected applicants – most noticeably two furloughed jumbo jet pilots

Aaron Leventhal earned his HGV licence driving trucks in the British Army. But, he then spent 10 years devoting his time and career to becoming an airline pilot. 

Unfortunately, after just 13 months, the airline he worked for collapsed due to Covid. Aaron has now returned to HGV driving for Tesco and earns £40,000 - a 25% increase on his pilot salary.


Other routes into HGV driving

High street retail workers

A report by Sky News found that, as of April 2021, the pandemic was the reason for 167,450 job losses - with almost half (82,903) coming from the retail and hospitality industries. 

Many people have turned to truck driving after closing small businesses or restarting their careers after furlough. 

Prisoners

During the fuel shortage in September 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab considered prisoners to be a solution for addressing the driver shortage. Offenders serving community sentences could get behind the wheel to help with delivery schedules. 


While this might have sounded logical, the press was quick to point out the flaws. One prisoner who promoted the scheme had served time for importing drugs into the UK on a lorry.

Class-C drivers

Almost 1 million people who have or previously had a Class-C licence (vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes) have been contacted by the government asking them to become HGV drivers if they are not already working in the sector. However, this included ambulance drivers, sparking concern that people could switch away from their life-saving work.

Unusual career paths are not new

While the need for HGV drivers is high, making an unusual switch to truck driving is not a new trend. Having asked our Facebook community, we discovered that many have moved into the industry from different professions. While former warehouse workers and ambulance drivers are logical, we noticed a range of former occupations, including farmworkers, the military, a postman, a dry stone waller and even a band roadie. 

Making trucking more accessible

The key to quickly onboarding new drivers is to ease the path to qualification – making CPC qualifications more affordable and testing less demanding.

Making the testing process quicker and straightforward is a vital first step. While the government is planning to simplify tests to try and fast-track new drivers, the industry believes that this will not be enough in the short term.

Supermarkets and large businesses are offering incentives to new starters to increase driver numbers ahead of Christmas with improved wages and sign-on bonuses. Sainsbury’s and Tesco had offered drivers bonuses of up to £2,000.

With the now infamous figure of a 100,000-driver shortage to resolve, identifying new drivers from unusual sources and providing opportunities for increased pay and a new career, these unlikely drivers could play a key role in easing the driver shortage.

Find out more about the pros and cons of being a truck driver. 

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