We need more Driving Instructors! As the UK is expected to see a national shortage

We need more Driving Instructors! As the UK is expected to see a national shortage

18/04/2021
Dave Leverton, Driving Instructor with Bill Plant Driving School, spoke to the BBC about the extraordinary pupil demand levels

Driving lesson demand is set to soar over the next decade as the number of Instructors has decreased, alongside a huge backlogs for learners.

Data from the Department for Transport has revealed that the number of instructors has decreased by 12 percent over the past seven years. Numbers have dropped from 44,569 in 2013 to just 39,521 at the start of 2020 with services set to drop further over the coming years.

Analysis from insurance experts Marmalade has revealed that there could be fewer than 38,000 instructors by 2025 as the decline continues.

Meanwhile, a 2003 “baby boom” will see the number of young people turning 17 rise to almost 100,000 by 2025 in an increase of almost 70,000 people.

According to the insurance firm Marmalade there are currently 17.59 potential learner drivers to each instructor in 2020 but demand is expected to rise.

Experts warn that the coronavirus pandemic could have a large impact on demand in the near future due to backlogged tests and young people not able to start lessons and no longer wishing to rely on public transport.

The effect of the pandemic

For over half the year, driving lessons have been barred as part of the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. This has resulted in an unprecedented situation whereby the backlog of learner driver tests has risen to an extraordinary amount, with the DVSA confirming there are (at the time of writing) currently 420,000 car tests in the backlog and the national average waiting time for a driving test is 17 weeks.

Alongside this, as stated in one of the sections below, behavioural shifts have been identified in terms of a reduced reluctance to use public transport. Concerns over social distancing have prompted more learners to search for that driving test pass in order to drive independently in the security of their own vehicles.

In addition, due to the pandemic, many ‘at risk’ instructors decided to leave the industry or retire early, however the number of new instructors joining the industry was the lowest it has been since the Department of Transport have released their data on new ADI registrations, as the DVSA were unable to conduct the necessary Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 Exams for trainees to become driving instructors for much of the year.

The result has seen Bill Plant Driving School break its bookings record multiple times since the restart on the 12th April, with 80% of our instructors fully booked (as of 10th May), with hundreds more reporting busy diaries! We are doing everything we can to support our drivers and ensure their learner drivers pass first time, to help clear the backlog.

Driving Instructors v potential learners

To look at the supply and demand, Marmalade decided to take a look at the amount of potential young learners over the coming years to work out roughly the amount of drivers per instructor. Of course, this doesn’t take into account those over 17 looking to learn to drive, so the number of learners per instructor will be even higher!

A breakdown of the results from the study is as follows:

When you look at the ‘potential young learners v number of ADIs’ column you can see clearly how the demand looks set to ramp up significantly over the coming months and years. While there were around 16.84 young learners per instructor in 2019 this is predicted to increase by four people (20.84) by 2025 and if you think about this practically – that’s going to be around an extra four lessons a week for instructors, assuming those learners only want one per week, some might want more!

These results are an overview to showcase the issue but it makes it clear why we need more Approved Driving Instructors!

Marmalade CEO, Crispin Monger said: “It’s no surprise that being stuck at home during the strictest period of lockdown made a lot of people sit down and have a think about their future plans, as well as self-development goals and ambitions once they had the opportunity to tackle them head-on.

Driving, for many people, is one of the main forms of independence, and being stuck at home for significant lengths of time has been the incentive for many to get on the road and travel in their own vehicle more proactively than ever before.

Many people feel safer in the comfort of their own vehicle, and with 20 percent of people suggesting they are likely to drive more to avoid public transport, this is likely to have contributed towards the spike in searches as well.

The next challenge facing provisional licence holders is finding an approved Driving Instructor with availability for new pupils, and booking a driving test, with waiting lists rising all the time.”

Why will there be a shortage in Driving Instructors?

A decline in Driving Instructors

According to data from the Department of Transport, the amount of UK driving instructors has fallen by 12% over the past seven years – falling from 44,569 in 2013 to 39,521 at the start of 2020 – and this is predicted to fall even further in the coming years. So for those thinking about becoming a driving instructor, now could be a good time to train!

For those considering a career in the profession, check out our guide to becoming a Driving Instructor.

Based on current trends, the amount of instructors on the road in 2025 looks set to fall to just over 38,000 as more instructors retire or move into other careers themselves, which could make things difficult for provisional drivers.

The impact of a 2003 ‘baby boom’

The amount of people born in 2003 saw a significant spike compared to the three preceding years, following a bit of a lull between 2000-2002, and based on the birth rates alone, around 695,000 people will turn 17 in 2020 – that’s 27,000 more compared to 2019 alone.
However, the amount of potential learners only looks set to grow when you look at the birth stats for the following years. The amount of people turning 17 in the years 2021-2025 grows exponentially year-on-year as follows:

Estimated amount of people turning 17:
– 2021 (born in 2004): 718,996
– 2022 (born in 2005): 722,549
– 2023 (born in 2006): 748,563
– 2024 (born in 2007): 772,245
– 2025 (born in 2008): 794,383

Based on these figures alone you can understand why getting a lesson might prove a little harder in the years to come, but when you add the amount of instructors to the mix you can really see why we need to encourage more potential Driving Instructors to pursue it as a profession!

The movement away from public transport

One final thing worth mentioning is the impact of Covid-19 on public transport use; it’s no secret that many people are warier than ever before about the use of buses, trains, trams etc. due to the risk of infection and social distancing measures in place. 

Many believe that while the current measures in place are only temporary, this global pandemic will encourage people to take transport into their own hands through learning to drive and this could further compound the number of people wanting to learn to drive across different age groups. Just another element to add to the mix! 

How do I train to become a Driving Instructor?

In the main it is three steps, Theory, Driving Ability, and Teaching Ability – known as Part 1, 2 and 3.

As well as being National Driving School of the Year, Bill Plant Driving School is one of the UK’s largest providers for expert Driving Instructor Training nationwide! We train hundreds of new instructors each year to educate the next wave of learner drivers. The next one could be you!

Receive professional guidance and assistance from Bill Plant Driving School’s Training Support Team to help guide you through all the aspects relating to our courses.

Follow the link to enquire about training to become a driving Instructor and one of our friendly Recruitment Managers will be in touch to take you through the process.

Theo