Success Story

Phil Westwell’s Journey with Aspire

In the latter half of 2017 I came across the startling news in both
the mainstream press and through industry bodies such as the
Road Haulage Association that the haulage industry was facing a
massive shortage of qualified HGV drivers – running into the tens
of thousands.

At the time I was at a crossroads in my own career and was
looking for a new way to earn a living. Having had some
experience of transporting goods across the UK – albeit in smaller
class vehicles – it seemed a reasonable ambition to try and make
the transition to a new career in HGV driving, especially if the
shortfall in qualified drivers at present meant that opportunities
for work would be out there.

However, after getting several quotes from HGV training
companies it became clear I couldn’t afford to put myself through
the process.

One of if not the biggest barrier to potentially thousands of new
drivers seems to be the cost of training to acquire a HGV licence.
Also by law you must hold a Certificate of Professional
Competence as a HGV driver, again adding to the cost of training
(and the prospect of dreaded exams!)

Step forward Aspire.

Further research into finding a way to cover the cost of training
lead me to Aspire via the Turn2Us website and its Grant Search
feature. Armed with a quote from a well regarded local training
company I completed the Aspire application for funding and
waited nervously for a reply…

I was delighted when, in November 2017, I was awarded funding
to train for a CAT C/Class 2 HGV licence and for driver CPC
training. Now I could move forward with an incredible oppurunity
(that I would never have otherwise had) to complete my ambition
and become a qualified HGV driver.

The staff at the training company TTA were extremely friendly and
helpful and took me through the training process, organising a
combination of on-line learning for some components of the CPC
course along with hands on training at their own premises and
one-to-one driver instruction.

After studying and mock testing the on-line components of the
CPC course I took the actual tests in early 2018 at a dedicated
government test centre and was extremely pleased (and relieved!)
to pass all the exams. A couple of months later I undertook the
practical CPC component, five sessions of driver instruction and
the driver test. I had considered myself a decent car driver but
nothing quite prepares you for a manual truck gearbox and the
daunting size of a Class 2 vehicle. The techniques for manouvering
combined with the controls and the incredible amount of detailed
advance planning and awareness needed to get a truck of this size
down the road was staggering. So much so that I unfortunately
failed the driving test and with that, I thought, the dream was
over.

Aspire didn’t think so and they incredibly generously funded an
extra two driver tuition sessions and re-test. I’d really beaten
myself up over the initial fail and thought I wasn’t going to be
good enough to drive a HGV. But Aspire had given me another
chance and the extra session of tuition was instrumental in
getting everything I’d learned to click into place and I finally
passed the test. This time I actually felt like I belonged in the
vehicle and rather than it being a stressful exercise, now I didn’t
want to hand back the keys!

Now that I hold a Cat C HGV Licence, a DQC (Driver Qualification
Card – this card shows I hold a driver Certificate of Professional
Competence) and a newly purchased Digital Tachograph Smart
Card I can pursue a career in HGV driving, benefiting both my
future and helping the haulage industry be short of one less
driver!

None of the above would have been possible without the support
of Aspire. Your incredible generosity and commitment has been
overwhelming and I will always be extremely grateful to you.
I hope that you continue your great work in helping individuals
who might otherwise have struggled to get into roles within the
Transport & Logistics industries.

Thank You and My Very Best Wishes,

Phil Westwell