Why not become a lorry driver?

Autos & TrucksTrucks

  • Author Lyall Cresswell
  • Published October 1, 2008
  • Word count 545

If you think of lorry drivers in England, you probably get the same common stereotype in your head – a middle aged white man. There’s a good reason for that – they dominate the industry. Of course, the problem with this status quo is that an industry cannot survive on those in their middle age, and it’s estimated that around 80,000 of them could be retiring in the next 10 years – with nobody to replace them. The haulage industry needs to fish outside its usual demographic to secure its future. Could you be the sort of person that’s suited to a job in the road haulage industry?

Primarily, the target they’re looking for is young people. But notice that I said "people" rather than men? It wasn’t a mistake, and although there aren’t many women in haulage work at the moment there’s no reason that this shouldn’t change, and I for one would welcome a gender shift. For one thing, it would make the industry seem less macho, which I suspect is a real turn off for most people who have ever considered a career in lorry driving.

The best thing haulage work has going for it is the freedom. You’re largely your own boss and can choose hours to match your lifestyle. The modern trucks make things a hell of a lot easier than they used to be as well, with air conditioning the rule rather than the exception and satellite navigation making mapping a breeze. Then there’s the pay, which isn’t bad at all – the average lorry driver can expect to earn between £26,000 and £34,000 per year putting it above the national average wage. And the talk of long hours? Well, legally it should be a thing of the past, with the Road Transport Directive bringing down the hours to an average 48 hours a week for those doing haulage work (it used to be around 65!)

Of course there are downsides – in many ways it’s a tricky time to join the industry with some companies’ futures uncertain thanks to high fuel prices, though this doubt can be avoided if you land a road haulage job at one of the bigger companies. It’s also true that at the moment, it seems like an intimidating industry for minorities to enter, with just over 1% of lorry drivers currently female and 2% from ethnic minorities. There’s also the tricky task of passing two heavy vehicle driving exams before you can be considered, but once you’re through that, the national recruitment deficit (nationally, the industry is in need of 15,000 more lorry drivers) should make finding road haulage jobs a breeze.

But for all the issues the industry undoubtedly has (which seem to be changing for the better), the best endorsement I can give is that the majority of those in haulage work that I’ve met seem genuinely happy in the freedom of their work and wouldn’t change it for the world. In what other job can you see the whole country – all around the world if you want to transfer your skills abroad? This job satisfaction is the main selling point. How many of those stuck behind a desk can claim that level of contentedness, in all honesty?

Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director for the Transport Exchange Group. Haulage Exchange, their freight exchange for the 7.5 tonne and above market, offers an independent environment for its members to exchange haulage and road haulage jobs.

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