DVSA announced plans last month to recruit up to 40 extra vocational licence examiners to handle the current backlog in driving tests. It said it had filled some of the vacancies internally, and was seeking external applicants for the remaining posts, who would cover truck and bus tests.
Before lockdown, the organisation was already struggling to keep up with demands for truck and bus licence driving tests. It has increased the number of vocational (LGV and PCV) driving tests on offer from 2,000 a week pre-Covid to 3,000 by working overtime and allocating existing staff into testing. It has been estimated that a backlog exists of some 40,000 candidates waiting for tests.
DVSA said it was looking for examiners in east England, north-west England, south England, south-east England, south-west England, the West Midlands, and north and south Wales.
A full Cat C + E licence is a prerequisite, and successful applicants will serve four months post-training as car examiners before moving on to larger vehicles.
It has also been consulting on ways to reduce the test backlog. These include removing the requirement to obtain a Cat C (rigid) licence before commencing Cat C+E (artic/ drawbar) training; allowing trainers, rather than examiners, to conduct the part of the test relating to reversing and manoeuvring; and removing the need for car drivers to take an additional test to entitle them to tow a trailer.
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.”
Baroness Vere, the roads minister, added: “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.”
Figures obtained by Transport Operator from DVSA indicate that, prior to lockdown, on 19 August 2019, the national average waiting time for a vocational (truck, bus or coach) driving test was 2.76 weeks. On 18 August 2021, the figure was 7.84 weeks.
The DVSA said it did not hold figures on the actual numbers of people waiting for tests at any one time.