Femail HGV driver passing her test

Resilience and innovation: the UK HGV industry in 2023

Monday, January 8, 2024 - 08:01
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The UK Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) industry in 2023 has demonstrated both resilience and innovation in a rapidly changing economic and logistical landscape. But what are the broader trends and transformations that have impacted the industry last year?

Adapting Fleet Strategies

A significant trend across the industry was the strategic resizing of HGV and bus fleets. Many companies changed their fleets to better align with evolving client needs. For instance, last year HGVC expanded into the Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) sector recruiting 20 additional instructors and purchasing 10 vehicles. This shift reflects a broader industry trend towards diversification and flexibility in response to market demands.

Bus training

Bus driver training

Growth in training and instruction

The industry saw a substantial increase in the number of instructors and the expansion of training programmes, largely led by the continued Department for Education Skills Bootcamps in HGV Driving. These schemes have been critical for the industry over the last couple of years, helping train thousands of new drivers for the sector.

In addition, companies have also invested in in-house training to maintain high standards, reflecting a commitment to quality and the growing demand for skilled HGV drivers. This trend was not just about quantity but also about enhancing the quality of training to meet the sophisticated needs of the modern logistics sector.

Client engagement and market response

Throughout 2023, the HGV industry witnessed varied client engagement patterns. While some sectors, like construction, experienced a seasonal slowdown, others maintained consistent demand. The industry grappled with challenges such as test availability backlogs and industrial actions, which impacted operations. However, the latter half of the year saw improvements, with test availability increasing and training timelines shortening.



Technological advancements and customer service

Technological innovation was a key theme in 2023. Many companies introduced digital platforms and apps to enhance customer experience in training programs. For instance, HGVT, our sister company, invested £150,00 in a new app to help streamline the learning journey for HGV drivers.

Our app, available to download on the App Store, puts the entire training journey in one app, enabling trainees to book their medical, theory and practical tests all from one place. The app also enables trainees to learn and complete mock theory and hazard perception tests and keeps individuals updated on their progress so they can see when they are ready to sit real tests. By the end of March this year, we’ll also make this app available to the employees of our corporate clients, ensuring they can benefit too.

Such tools provide data-driven insights, flexible communication options, and tailored reporting, significantly improving the training process and customer engagement.

Economic challenges and opportunities

Despite economic challenges, including the cost-of-living crisis, the HGV industry demonstrated remarkable resilience. Companies adapted by offering diverse training programmes and leveraging government-funded schemes to attract a wider range of candidates.

For instance, this year, HGVC has put more focus on continuous learning programmes. By diversifying our offer, we’ve been able to drive new revenues while helping fill a vital gap in the HGV driver-training market. Such adaptability is crucial in navigating the economic headwinds and sustaining growth.

Emphasis on compliance and training excellence

A major focus for the industry was on compliance and governance in training schools. Companies undertook extensive reporting and analysis to ensure high standards in training delivery. The development of improved audit processes and a commitment to best practices underscored the industry’s dedication to maintaining high-quality training standards.

Partnerships and client expansion

The year also saw the strengthening of partnerships and the expansion of client bases. Companies onboarded new clients, including large corporations, reflecting the industry’s growing influence and capability to cater to diverse needs.

The expansion into new sectors, like local government and community projects, highlighted the industry’s adaptability and responsiveness to different market segments. For instance, some projects and clients HGVC has worked with this year include charity Youth First, retailer Pets at Home, bus operator Stagecoach and global logistics firm GXO.

The UK HGV industry in 2023 has shown adaptability, innovation, and resilience. Facing economic challenges and evolving market demands, the industry has successfully navigated a period of significant change.

The focus on quality training, technological advancements, and strategic fleet management has positioned the industry for continued growth and success. As the industry moves forward, these trends and strategies offer valuable insights for future development and sustainability.

Author: Darren Clapich, Commercial Director, driver training specialist HGVC

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