Sharon Dayson is commercial director at LGV [Large Goods Vehicle] training school, Horsepower, set up by two female co-founders, Nathalie Axon and Jan Carter. At present, less than 1% of LGV drivers are female, so to address this, Horsepower encourages women to undertake training through a series of taster days run by qualified drivers. These days allow potential drivers to experience driving modern LGVs and speak to female mentors and local operators about the reality of life behind the wheel.
“…I think the industry as whole can agree that we definitely need to look at new and innovative ways to attract new people to logistics…”
Sharon, please can you tell us about your career to date and what made you decide to join Horsepower?
I have worked within the transport / recruitment sector for the 16 years. For the last ten years that has been within my own business, UK Drivers, which is an employment agency which specialises in providing LGV drivers. We were the first employment agency to put Nathalie [Axon] into work when she first passed her LGV1 test.
The company was set up by two female co-founders, Nathalie Axon and Jan Carter. Please can you tell us about this?
The company was really the brainchild of Nathalie, as once she had actually gained her LGV1 licence, she then discovered how difficult it was to obtain employment and also how much more there was to learn outside of just passing the driving test.
Would you be able to talk us through the demographics of the industry and why finding LGV drivers is a challenge?
The UK economy is currently facing a worsening shortage of licensed and qualified truck drivers. The Road Haulage Association says that the driver shortfall is around 45,000 and is likely to increase to 60,000 within the next year.
The issues that have brought us to this point are:
- Economic growth – which has created more demand for truck drivers;
- We have an ageing workforce in the industry. The average age is 53, 13% are over 60 and only 2% of drivers are under 25;
- The perception of driving trucks means that we do not attract enough people – men or women and it is simply just not seen as a career of choice.
Could you tell us more about the taster days you run?
Our taster days are a real girls guide to trucks and driving. Our taster day hosts are able to give first-hand experience of how ladies can become a truck driver and enjoy all the flexibility and freedom it brings while earning a decent wage.
What are the benefits of becoming professionally qualified and becoming an LGV driver?
Flexible Working Hours, a career for life, and a good / flexible income dependant on how you to choose to work.
What has the uptake been like from women?
The uptake from women has been fantastic. It genuinely is a career that many women would not even consider as they have not previously had the opportunity to look at it first-hand.
How have men in the profession reacted?
The reaction from men so far has also been very positive. I think the industry as whole can agree that we definitely need to look at new and innovative ways to attract new people to logistics.
What is next for you and Horsepower?
I am really just finding my feet with Horsepower but I do believe that it truly is a fantastic and innovative way to attract new people to the industry. We are now heavily concentrating on building partnerships with companies so that once we have taken people through their driving test there is a clear career progression available to them.