We recently welcomed Rt Hon Sir George Howarth MP to our driver training site in Knowsley to discuss the crippling backlog in lorry driving test availability. The resulting long delays in trainee drivers obtaining their LGV/HGV licences threaten the viability of LGV Apprenticeships and the Government’s flagship Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving. The Government is relying heavily on both these initiatives to tackle the UK driver shortage.
Twelve-month waits for test dates
Last week, Kevin Birch, managing director at TRS, driver tutors, and students met with Sir George Howarth. We explained to the MP for Knowsley that we have 150 trainee drivers ready to take their lorry driving tests in the North West, but they face 12-month waits for test dates.
TRS Training is a UK leader in providing LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) Apprenticeships. The company also delivers the UK Government’s Skills Bootcamps for HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) Driving. Both these training programmes enable trainees to gain their lorry driver’s licence. TRS training programmes are playing a pivotal role in tackling the current lorry driver shortage in the North West and across the country.
Causes of delays
The nationwide shortage of drivers means TRS’s training and licence acquisition services are in high demand both with individuals wanting to gain their lorry driving licences and employers who need to recruit qualified drivers. Yet the faster TRS recruits trainee drivers, the longer the waiting list for LGV/HGV tests seems to grow, both in the North West and other parts of the UK. Keen to keep things moving and get their trainee drivers employed by companies and on the road, TRS Training invited Sir George Howarth MP to visit their training site in Knowsley. The objective was to provide him with a clear view of what is causing the delays so he can raise the issue in parliament.
With extensive experience operating in the logistics sector, TRS Training has excellent insight into both the causes of the test delays and the alarming impact on the industry. They have raised their concerns with the DVSA but recognise that the Government needs to take immediate action to address the backlog.
Clear steps to improve situation
Whilst the Covid pandemic has inevitably affected test waiting times, Kevin Birch, managing director at TRS Training, outlines that there are clear steps which the Government can take to improve the situation:
“There is a shortage of DVSA examiners, so increasing salaries will attract more to the profession to tackle the backlog. In addition, opening more test centres across the country will also help; at present, students face two hour or longer trips to sit their test because there is no availability at their local test centre.”
Licence acquisition bottleneck
After meeting with Sir George, TRS is hopeful that the Government will take steps to remove the bottleneck in the licence acquisition process quickly.
Trainee HGV driver Chris Smith-Aldous is learning how to operate large goods vehicles on TRS Training’s Skills Bootcamp programme: “The training provided by TRS has been outstanding and given me a route out of unemployment after the Covid pandemic. However, I am worried driving test delays might mean waiting months to get my licence despite many companies crying out for qualified drivers.”