Driver's Mate

The Job and What's Involved

Delivery LorryA driver's mate travels with the driver of a large goods vehicle (LGV), truck or van, helping to load and unload deliveries. They may do local runs or support the driver during long-distance journeys.

Responsibilities vary depending on the goods being transported, but typically driver's mates assist the driver with:

  • Cleaning the vehicle and carrying out minor repairs.
  • Packing and loading the vehicle, taking account of the delivery order and making sure that items are easily accessible.
  • Checking that all of the items are accounted for against delivery sheets.
  • Examining the vehicle before setting off, checking the load is safe.
  • Telephoning customers to confirm delivery times.
  • Planning routes, navigating and advising the driver about diversions.
  • Helping unload goods at the delivery point.
  • Removing packaging and placing items at the customer's request.
  • Obtaining delivery signatures from customers.
  • Processing payments and issuing receipts.
  • Parking in tight spaces.

Items being transported can include large household items, electrical goods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, groceries, wholesale retail supplies, waste and recycled goods, and stage sets. These may be delivered to:

- Homeowners
- Pubs and restaurants
- Supermarkets and shops
- Offices and warehouses
- Hospitals, clinics and doctors' surgeries
- Museums, art galleries and theatre companies

Some driver's mates work on special types of vehicles, for example, fuel tankers delivering to petrol forecourts, car transporters delivering to showrooms, mobile cranes being taken to development sites or special, temperature-controlled vehicles for moving high-value museum and art pieces.

Some vehicles transport toxic substances or specialise in the disposal of contaminated items, for instance hospital supplies. The driver's mate must be aware of health and safety issues surrounding moving, storing and unloading these items.

A driver's mate usually works between 40 and 45 hours a week, but hours are determined by the distances being travelled. Like LGV drivers, they cannot work more than an average of 48 hours a week, or a maximum of 60 hours in any week. Shift, night and weekend work is common. Part-time work is available.

Some journeys may require overnight stops in coach parks and service stations. The driver and driver's mate may eat and sleep in the truck. Some vehicles are equipped with special beds, air conditioning and modern facilities.

The work is physical and tiring, and can include lots of bending and stretching. Some of the work is outside. Protective clothing may need to be worn, including gloves and heavy duty shoes. Uniforms may be provided.

Starting salaries are around £8,000 a year. Driver's mates may earn more through working at the weekend and night driving.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The logistics industry is made up of over 37,000 companies dealing with road freight transport. There are more than 319,000 LGV drivers, many of whom require driver's mates to help in the transportation, loading and unloading of goods.

Employers vary in size, from small local firms to larger multi-site distributors. Job opportunities exist throughout the UK with national household and furniture removal organisations, large retail and wholesale delivery companies, haulage contractors, transport and courier firms, and breweries. Demand for driver's mates remains steady.

Vacancies are usually advertised in the local press and at Jobcentre Plus offices. The Careers in Logistics website, www.careersinlogistics.co.uk, has a large database of regional employers, and a comprehensive job search engine.

Education and Training

There are no formal academic qualifications to become a driver's mate. Applicants may be expected to show a good knowledge of vehicles and how they work. Some basic qualifications in English and maths are useful, as the job often involves handling documentation.

Most will be expected to have a full driving licence. Vacancies may be restricted to applicants who are over 17 years old.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most of the training is on the job, accompanying an experienced driver. Some employers may have induction programmes, covering health and safety requirements, lifting heavy goods, and the company administration procedures.

Approved training organisations, registered with Skills for Logistics, offer the chance to work towards practical work-based qualifications, including:

  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Carry and Deliver Goods.
  • NVQ/SVQ Levels 1 to 3 in Distribution, Warehousing and Storage Operations.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 1 in Distributive Operations.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Driving Goods Vehicles (units 6 and 7).
  • NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Traffic Office.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A driver's mate needs:

  • A good level of general fitness and stamina.
  • To be reliable and punctual.
  • To be a confident map reader.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Common sense and a responsible attitude.
  • A polite attitude towards other road users.
  • An awareness of health and safety issues.
  • A practical knowledge of motor vehicle maintenance.
  • Good customer service skills.
  • Basic numeracy and literacy skills for completing record sheets and paperwork.
  • Good eyesight and good colour vision.
  • To work well in a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

Many driver's mates use this job as a route into LGV driving, warehouse operations or transport planning. Those who complete units 6 and 7 of the NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Driving Goods Vehicles can then apply for a Category C LGV provisional licence and take the C Category test, to drive rigid vehicles over 7.5 tonnes. They need to pass this before taking the C+E licence, which enables them to drive an articulated vehicle over 7.5 tonnes.

Get Further Information

Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Stanley House,
56 Talbot Street, Nottingham NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500
Website: www.dsa.gov.uk

Freight Transport Association (FTA),
Hermes House, St John's Road,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9UZ
Tel: 01892 526171
Website: www.fta.co.uk

Road Haulage Association, Roadway House,
35 Monument Hill, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8RN
Tel: 01932 841515
Website: www.rha.net

Skills for Logistics, 14 Warren Yard,
Warren Farm Office Village, Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 0844 800 4184
Website: www.skillsforlogistics.org

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