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Want a change of career? How about becoming a lorry driver?

If you’re currently looking for a new career, then retraining as a lorry driver might be the job for you. In this article, Stevie sets out the pros and cons of working as a driver and we share Toby’s experience of retraining and his thoughts on his new job.

The demand for drivers is soaring but the number of people qualified to drive HGV’s is falling, with the shortfall estimated to reach 257,000 by 2022. This means that now may be the perfect time to think about driving a lorry for a living.

It’s not just the number of jobs out there that make being a lorry driver an attractive career choice. It’s a varied job with a range of benefits:

  • You can earn a good basic wage – the average salary is £32,500.
  • You can boost your annual salary – there’s often the opportunity for overtime.
  • You can travel to new places – the routes you drive could take you across Europe.
  • You get a sense of freedom – this is no desk job and you get a lot of time to yourself.

Lorry driving is a booming career and it’s one that’s open to those who have a criminal conviction – unless your offence led you to being disqualified from driving.

But before you rush in and start looking for jobs, there are a few things you should consider.

Will an employer pay for you to take your CPC qualification?

The UK government lists three basic requirements that qualify you to be a lorry driver:

Whilst you need to have a CPC, you don’t necessarily need to be the one who pays for it; some companies will offer free training as well as paying for the CPC exams.

Where will you be working (regionally, nationally or internationally)?

Travel is one of the biggest appeals of lorry driving for many people. You get to spend your working life out on the road and this could take you anywhere.

Once upon a time, where you worked was pretty straightforward but Brexit has changed all that. Lorry drivers going from the UK into Europe will need to provide a variety of documents (the BBC recently reported that 71 pages of paperwork were required for a single lorry of fish travelling from the UK to the EU) adding a lot of time and work to a lorry drivers day. If you are driving to Europe therefore you might find yourself spending a lot of time just sitting around waiting, which is likely to make the job a lot less appealing.

Keeping safe on the road

Like any job, lorry driving has it’s disadvantages:

  • Long hours sat behind a wheel can restrict your access to fresh air
  • Time away from your family can impact on your mental health
  • Watching the road for hours could have an effect on your eyesight.

But, the biggest threat to your health could come from having an accident while you’re on the road. This is a serious matter and it’s important that you ask any employer what they’re doing to keep you safe whilst you’re driving.

If you want to earn a decent salary and don’t mind working on your own then working as a lorry driver might be worth considering.

By Stevie Nicks

A comment from Unlock and Toby’s story

For many people receiving a conviction may mean having to consider a new career path and although becoming a lorry driver might not be for everyone, Stevie’s article certainly highlights a skills gap.

Toby initially contacted our helpline 2 years ago for some advice on disclosing his unspent conviction to an employer. He was applying to work in a warehouse for a large distribution company. Toby’s application was successful and a year later he contacted us again after the company he was working for offered him the chance to retrain as an HGV driver.

Although his conviction remained unspent, it was for a non-motoring offence and after being reassured by Unlock that his conviction wouldn’t affect his chances of getting a licence, Toby took the decision to accept his employers offer.

From start to finish, it took Toby 12 weeks to learn to drive an HGV and get his licence. His company paid for all the practical and theory training, his exams, medical and licence. In return, Toby committed to work for them for the next 12 months.

Toby told us

My company put a notice up in the staff canteen asking for applications from anybody interested in retraining as a driver. I had no idea what was involved when I applied, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Eight of us started the training and only one guy wasn’t able to finish. Apparently he had an unspent motoring conviction and the company were struggling to get him insured. He’s going to apply again once his conviction is spent.

As I’m still on licence, overseas trips might have been an issue but luckily all my work is in the UK and my probation officer saw this as great career progression for me.

I was really pleased to get the job working in the warehouse but this new role has given me not just a great salary but a real sense of self-worth.

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