Britain’s driver testing agency is recruiting 40 new examiners in a bid to help tackle the shortage of lorry drivers.
The move by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will see a combination of existing staff and new recruits drafted in to increase the number of tests that can be carried out.
In June the Road Haulage Association warned that the industry was at “crisis point”, with a shortage of 100,000 drivers, and said that a lack of driver testing was contributing to that.
The shortage is being felt around the country, with supermarkets and other retailers experiencing supply issues and a warning that it could affect deliveries of clothes, toys and electrical goods in the run-up to Christmas.
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The RHA estimates that the Covid pandemic caused a shortfall of around 25,000 lorry driver tests in 2020, leaving the industry struggling to fill roles. It was already under pressure due to drivers retiring, the effects of Brexit and changes to tax laws which affected many freelance drivers.
The DVSA has said that it is working to increase testing capacity, with the recruitment of 40 new vocational examiners key to that.
Some existing agency staff are switching to examiner roles but the DVSA is also looking for external candidates to fill the roles across England and Wales.
DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “We recognise the haulage industry keeps the wheels of our economy turning and have listened to its concerns about the current lorry driver shortage.
“We have responded by doing all we can to support the industry in tackling this issue through increasing lorry driver testing.
“This includes our latest campaign to recruit more vocational examiners so we can maximise our lorry testing capacity.”
Applications for the new roles close in September but all successful candidates will have to undergo training and then carry out car tests for four months before beginning meaning the effects of the recruitment drive won’t be felt until early next year.
Recruiting more examiners is among a package of measures announced by the Government to address the haulage industry’s concerns.
It has already relaxed rules on driving hours, is considering allowing drivers to sit the articulated trailer test without first passing a rigid lorry test and allowing trainers to assess the off-road manoeuvres element of the HGV test.
Roads Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Our HGV drivers provide a vital service delivering food, medicine and other vital goods to where they’re 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.
“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.”