The image of a lorry driver as a burly male holding a Yorkie bar is, we are pleased to say, outdated. But it is still the case that HGV driving is a male-dominated profession, with only around 1% of the workforce made up of women.
At the same time, there is a crisis in the driving sector, with some 60,000 driver vacancies. The Road Haulage Association is putting pressure on the Government to take action to address the issue, which is threatening to leave shop shelves empty with not enough drivers to transport goods around.
As leading independent recruiters to the driving sector we take a keen interest in this. We blogged earlier this month about the driver shortage (read our ‘five benefits of being a lorry driver’), and are passionate about promoting driving as a career choice for men and women alike.
If more women who are looking for work considered training as a driver, that could go some way to easing the shortage and levelling up the gender imbalance in the profession at the same time.
Among our drivers at 24-7 Staffing is Georgina. Here’s her take on what it’s like to work as a lorry driver.
How long have you been a driver?
I worked originally in care and have also worked in domestic violence, and I loved those careers. As the family grew up a little bit, I decided to take my HGV qualification. I used to go out with my uncle on his trucks when I was young, and have always loved lorries. Learning to drive one was something I had always wanted to do, so it was just a personal challenge. I didn’t necessarily think it would be a career, but I just took to it. This was 20 years ago, and I have been driving ever since.
Did you find it easy to get work?
Twenty years ago it wasn’t as easy as it is now. Everyone wanted experience, which of course you don’t have when you have only just passed. So to gain the experience I would write to companies and offer to work for free, and that’s how I built that experience up.
What types of driving have you done?
I’ve done multi drops, tipper driving, even some long distance. For the past nine years or so I have been an agency driver for a recycling business in Salisbury, and I really love it.
What do you like about the job?
I enjoyed working in care, but I needed a change and a new challenge and that’s what driving offered me. Plus I wanted to push myself to learn something new.
Now I am in my fifties, have been driving for 20 years, and I still enjoy it. My job is local, I am with a great bunch and we have some really good banter. And to be honest I just love driving the trucks. People ask ‘how to you drive that?’ but once you learn how to do it, it’s no different to driving a car, just on a bigger scale.
In the job I do now I start 6.15am, finish at 3.15pm, and then I go home and don’t take my work worries with me like I did when I was in working in care. It’s perfect for me.
Would you recommend driving to people as a career?
Yes, I would, but I do think the pay needs to come up. People don’t realise it’s a massive responsibility. We aren’t just sitting there driving. That said, we do have equal pay for men and women.
If anyone is thinking of it, then I’d say go for it. It’s a new challenge and there’s no need to be fearful. Some of my women friends say ‘I’d love to do that, but I am too scared’, I’d say there really is no need to be.
What do your family think of your career?
The children are all grown up now, but they think it’s great and so do the grandchildren. If they see me on the road in my 26 tonne truck they think it’s wonderful – there goes Granny!
If you like the sound of a career as a driver, or if you are a qualified driver looking for new roles, please get in touch with the team at 24-7 Staffing.