If you’re thinking of starting a new career as an HGV driver, you’ll need to go through the process of gaining a Category C licence. This is the ‘entry-level’ licence you’ll need to acquire to drive lorries, and to get one you’ll need to complete a number of steps including an HGV training course.
With the transport and logistics sector being such a key part of our economy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that companies that provide HGV training are heavily regulated and the chance of getting caught out by a dodgy company would be an unlikely thing. Sadly however, this is not the case. The HGV training industry is barely regulated at all, and finding a good quality training company who has your best interests at heart can actually be quite tricky. Fear not though, our list of 10 mistakes when booking HGV training will help ensure you don’t waste your money, and that you get the licence you need with the minimum fuss and stress.
The HGV training industry is barely regulated at all, and finding a good quality training company who has your best interests at heart can actually be quite tricky.
At this point you might be thinking: ‘why should I trust what you say?’ If there are so many unscrupulous companies out there, what makes us trustworthy? Quite simply, Training Mentor is a website run to protect consumers. We don’t sell HGV courses so we’re not looking to make money from you. All our advice is impartial and written by industry experts with years of experience, and we’re here to help you, the trainee.
Assuming that passing your HGV test in an automatic will mean you can only drive automatic trucks.
In January 2014 the requirement for an 8-speed manual vehicle for test was changed. You can now take your test in an automatic truck, and providing you hold a manual car licence, you will be able to drive manual trucks after you pass.
Only considering companies with qualified instructors
There are two national qualifications for HGV instructors: the NRI and the NVDIR, however, being included on these is not mandatory. This means the majority of instructors who deliver HGV training are not listed on either register. Booking with a qualified instructor can give you some assurance into the quality of training you’ll receive, however, there are many instructors who are not registered who are extremely experienced and very good at their job. Your best option is to use customer feedback to get the best understanding of the quality of an instructor or training company – read on for more information about review sites.
Looking for the cheapest option
HGV training courses don’t come cheap. On average, to gain a Category C licence you’re going to be spending £1500-£2000, including theory tests, medical etc. It can therefore be tempting to look for the cheapest option. Make sure you do your research though, if you book with a company based on price alone, you may end up failing your test multiple times and have to pay out for re-tests – in the region of £350-£400 each time. Buy the best HGV training course you can afford and use trusted customer feedback to find the best companies in your area.
Not shopping around
HGV training companies can vary massively. Different businesses will own different vehicles and facilities, and have instructors with very different styles. What might be best for someone else might not be best for you. Shop around by enquiring with a few local companies, ask for a trial/assessment drive, and meet an instructor if possible.
Signing up over the phone
Don’t be tempted to book an HGV training course over the phone before you’ve been to visit the company in person. Many of the best looking companies you’ll find on the internet do not actually train you and will only make the booking on your behalf, taking a commission in the process. They will then send you to the training school they choose, which may not even be near you. These are known as brokers, and we have written a guide specifically on this subject. Don’t get caught out, always visit the training school yourself to ensure they actually own vehicles and employ instructors.
Trying to rush to save money
As mentioned in Point 3, the cost of a re-test can be substantial. Make sure you give yourself the best chance of passing first time by booking the right length course for your needs. If the biggest thing you’ve ever driven is a car, you would be best looking at around 18-20 hours inclusive of the test. If you have some experience with large vans or 7.5t vehicles, you may be OK with 16 hours. If you’re not sure, ask a reputable training company for an assessment.
Booking a ‘short course’
When we say ‘short course’ we mean, as an example: a 16 hour course taken in two 8-hour sessions over two days. This is NOT the same as spreading the 16 hour course over four days, with 4 hours training on each. You will be learning and improving many skills during your courses, and doing shorter sessions will improve your ability to retain the new information and put it into practice.
Booking with a company based on their ‘pass-rate’
Test pass rates are a controversial topic in the industry for a number of reasons. First, different people calculate rates in different ways, meaning some advertised rates are not what they seem. Equally, keeping a high pass rate depends a lot on the quality of the driver, not just the instructor – something which is out of the control of the training school. All we recommend is you don’t book based on the pass rate a company advertises. Also, be aware that the national average for HGV test passes is around 50%, with the best performing companies being able to push that up to around 75%. If you find a company advertising pass rates of 90%+, ask for proof. This figure is either not true, or has been calculated using a questionable method!
Using Google to search for the best HGV training company
Using Google (and other search engines) is a risky way to search for HGV training. At the top of search results you’ll often find companies calling themselves ’The UK’s best’ or ‘The UK’s biggest’. Remember, the top results in search engines are there because companies have paid to be there. Sure, you may find a good quality training company a the top too, but don’t assume being top of Google guarantees the company is reputable. Search for a training company on www.trainingmentor.co.uk, only genuine training companies are listed here – no brokers/middlemen.
Trusting some online review sites
Unfortunately, a lot of online review sites allow fake reviews to be displayed. This can mean some poor quality companies will have 5-star ratings. The only way to get a trusted rating of an HGV training company is to search through www.trainingmentor.co.uk, the only industry review site where reviews are checked for authenticity. Any reviews that cannot be verified are not shown on the website.