6 surprising myths about careers in Haulage
The combination of Brexit and COVID19 has seen the haulage industry put under the spotlight like never before. Even so, it’s still widely misunderstood. With that in mind, here is a quick rundown of some common myths about HGV driving along with the truth. It might surprise you.
HGV drivers are all old, white men
Technically, this isn’t a myth. It’s true that traditionally, HGV driving has been largely for men, especially white men. It’s also true that many HGV drivers are now approaching retirement. This is, however, very definitely not the whole truth about HGV drivers or HGV driving.
The HGV industry as a whole really does welcome people from all backgrounds. While the number of female and non-white drivers is still relatively small, it’s growing all the time. The HGV industry really does have work for everyone.
HGV drivers always keep themselves to themselves
Again, this isn’t exactly a myth, but it isn’t the whole truth either.
Just as with just about any industry, HGV drivers get to know one another. They also tend to use the same facilities. Sometimes these will need to be facilities that are set up for HGVs. Sometimes, they will be facilities that can be used by anyone but tend to be mostly used by HGV drivers.
At the same time, HGV drivers do have lives outside work. Also, they spend some of their time at work interacting with people who aren’t HGV drivers (or even in logistics). If you meet one, you’ll find they’re just like everybody else. Some are introverted but most will be happy to talk if they have time.
Possibly the reason that this myth grew up is that HGVs are such huge vehicles. HGV drivers are at a visual and physical distance from other road users. This is, however, just a reflection of the practicalities of HGV driving, not the nature of HGV drivers.
On a related note, it’s also much easier for HGV drivers to keep in touch with their employers, family, and friends. Smartphones (on hands-free when driving), tablets, laptops, and the (mobile) internet mean that drivers never have to feel isolated even when they’re alone.
HGV drivers are low paid
This is subjective but here are some facts for you to make up your own mind. Entry-level HGV drivers working as employees can expect to earn a base salary of around £19K to £24K. They will also get the usual employment benefits, in fact, it’s highly likely that they will get enhanced benefits.
By comparison, new graduates can expect to earn in the region of £24K to £30K. Graduates, however, need to spend 3+ years at university to earn those salaries. HGV drivers can qualify in as little as 2-3 months. Even if candidates want to learn at a slower pace, 6 months is a reasonable expectation.
Graduates also have to take on a lot more debt to get their degrees. HGV drivers may not have to take on any. It is now much easier to get advanced funding for HGV qualifications; it’s also more common for employers to pay the cost of qualification as part of a hiring package. If they don’t pay it directly, they will probably offer higher wages.
It’s also a lot easier to get into an HGV training course than into a decent university. Brexit and COVID19 made the government realise that it needed to do everything possible to address the shortage of HGV drivers. This included working to increase capacity on HGV training courses.
HGV drivers have no room for progression
This one is a total myth and has been for a very long time. The truth is that there are plenty of opportunities for progression in the HGV industry. It is, however, down to each driver to decide if they want to progress. If they do, then they need to decide which route is right for them.
For clarity, some drivers are perfectly happy staying as drivers their whole working lives. Of these, some may choose to progress into more advanced driving roles. Others may choose to go on doing what they love doing. Some drivers move onto other roles in haulage or logistics more broadly. Some drivers move on to completely different areas.
HGV drivers only make boring trips
It’s true that you’re unlikely to see an HGV meandering along a quaint country lane. HGV drivers do indeed spend most of their time on major roads. That does not, however, mean that the trips are boring.
Firstly, HGV driving is probably the ultimate example of a job that can allow you to earn while you travel. You may have heard the phrase “bus driver’s holiday”. There’s a lot of truth in it but regular bus drivers must follow a set route. HGV drivers can usually choose their routes as long as they stay on schedule.
You can drive internationally if you wish but there are also plenty of roles for drivers who want (or need) to stay in the UK. You can even find some jobs that keep you within a certain part of the UK.
Secondly, your cab is yours so you can have whatever entertainment you want in it. The only rule is that you need to be able to always keep your attention on the road while you’re driving. Traditionally, HGV drivers have filled their cabs with music. Now, you can have audiobooks and podcasts as well.
HGV drivers get no time off
This one used to be true, but time has moved on. Now HGV drivers are mandated to take breaks and have rest days. They are also encouraged to use their paid holiday allocation. There are two reasons behind this change.
Firstly, companies recognized how damaging it was to have drivers working excessive hours. Not only did this result in high driver turnover but it also compromised safety. In short, tired drivers are more of an accident risk. With HGVs that can be catastrophic.
Secondly, regulators came to the same conclusion. For an indicator of just how seriously drivers’ rest is taken these days, think about the level of concern when safety precautions were loosened slightly in the early days of COVID19. This was at a time when drivers were on roads that were practically empty anyway.