Concrete company urges industry to attract more female drivers

Published:  08 March, 2016

South-west based Hopkins Concrete is urging the haulage industry to find ways of encouraging more female drivers to help solve the severe driver shortage.

Hopkins Concrete currently employs one female driver, but is advertising for new drivers and hopes to add to this number in the near future.

Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said: "Currently, this industry is between 45,000 and 50,000 drivers short. It has an ageing, predominantly male workforce with approximately 35,000 approaching retirement age. Right now we're missing out on a wealth of diverse talent and performance benefits that women can provide. To highlight this, September 2016 will see the second National Lorry Week, which will raise the profile and highlight the wide career potential offered by the UK's most important industry sector."

Sarah Blake, mixer truck driver for Hopkins Concrete, believes more women should look into training as a driver. "I have never really considered any other job," she said. "My Dad was a truck driver and I used to love it when he drove me around in his cab. It seemed a natural thing when I left school to get into driving. My first job was driving refuse trucks.

"I love working for Hopkins as everyone is so friendly, from the other drivers to the office staff. I guess that's what comes of it being a family run firm, but there is a very supportive ethos. Another attraction is that Hopkins offers excellent job training opportunities, and that is very helpful with the ongoing CPC training drivers now have to do under new regulations."

Hopkins Concrete has invested heavily in improving working conditions for drivers across the board, purchasing new Mercedes trucks for its fleet with improved vehicle specifications, including softer cab suspension, softer and better supported driver seats, increased space in the cab, and different spec tyres.

Some female drivers have sited the rude attitude of some members of the public as well as their male peers as a challenge. While this does need to be addressed, Ms Blake said: "I have actually never experienced chauvinism in my role. I am lucky, as all the drivers at Hopkins have accepted me without a second thought."

Hopkins Concrete director, Nathan Hopkins, said: "We are hoping to encourage more female drivers into the company, but it really needs a UK-wide push from schools, colleges and the UK government, as well as the wider public, to promote truck driving as a suitable trade for female and male school leavers. Only this way will we be able to make inroads into the issue of driver shortages being felt across the industry."

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