The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has launched a campaign to recruit more driving-test examiners to combat the current shortage of lorry drivers in England and Wales.
DVSA is also consulting on a range of rule changes aimed at keeping the nation’s supply chain moving amid a trucker shortage it says has increased from 45,000 in 2016 to 76,000 today.
Campaign group the Road Hauliers Association puts the HGV-driver shortage at 100,000 and says there is a 40,000-strong backlog of driving tests as a legacy of the pandemic lockdowns.
The shortage of HGV drivers, exacerbated by the “pingdemic”, has so far seen pubs in some areas run dry, shortages of milk and other produce in supermarkets, and warnings of delays to bin collections in some council areas.
DVSA’s just launched campaign for test examiners is seeking 40 recruits in total, two-thirds of which it expects to be external hires with the remainder made up of existing agency employees.
Successful applicants do not need to be qualified HGV examiners, but must be aged 23 or above and have held a full category C and E United Kingdom or European Union driving licence for three or more years.
DVSA said new recruits would initially be trained to carry out car driving tests before being put through its large goods vehicle examiner course. DVSA is offering a salary of £26,126 for new recruits, who will be hired on two-year fixed-term contracts. Its advertisement said the agency expected to make 27 external hires.
DVSA said it recognised that increasing the availability of vocational driving tests was key to reducing the shortage of HGV drivers, and that other measures in the consultation would “streamline the process” for drivers to become qualified. Some of the proposed measures involve delegating some elements of off-road testing to staff who are not qualified examiners.
It said the number of vocational driving tests had been increased from 2,000 a week before the pandemic to 3,000 now through overtime working and drafting in additional employees into testing.
DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said the agency recognised the haulage industry kept the wheels of the economy turning and its concerns about the current lorry-driver shortage had been listened to.
“We have responded by doing all we can to support the industry in tackling this issue through increasing lorry driver testing,” she said.
“This includes our latest campaign to recruit more vocational examiners so we can maximise our lorry testing capacity.”
Roads minister Baroness Charlotte Vere said the nation’s HGV drivers provided a “vital service” delivering food, medicine and other vital goods to where they were needed.
“That’s why we’re committed to working with industry to address the shortage of drivers and have unveiled a package of robust measures,” she said.
“Increasing the DVSA’s testing capacity is a crucial part of this plan, and I’d encourage anyone with the right experience to apply for a role – helping keep our country moving.”
DVSA lists more 17 potential bases for its recruits to work from. They are: Birmingham; Bolton; Cardiff; Chelmsford; Gloucester; Ipswich; Leighton Buzzard; Northampton; Peterborough; Poole; Rhyl; Sale; Southampton; St Helens; Stafford; Swindon; and Wolverhampton.
The recruitment campaign is open to applications unti 23:55 on 2 September.