By Ollie Tarrant
Picture the scene – a nervous, sweaty 18-year-old sitting in the front of a Vauxhall Astra, on the lean, mean streets of St. Albans, about to sit his driving test. It’s perhaps not surprising that, from this description, I failed my test first time around. Since then, I have moved from St Albans to Sheffield for university, and have stayed here since (nearly 5 years now!). I have been working at Gradconsult for nearly 2 of those years and during that time have not really felt the need to drive. I was able to get to the majority of places I needed to go to without a car – I can walk or cycle (Sheffield has definitely given me calves of steel) to most places in the city centre, take a bus or an Uber if I’m feeling lazy, and could get the train to anywhere further afield. In short, up until now, a car has been one of those things that would be nice, but seems like an awful lot of potential beer or avocado money for a millennial like me to spend on something I didn’t really need.
Now however, I have begun to see the need for a car much more with my job. Having recently been project managing the RISE programme, a car would have made it a lot easier to get out to the SME’s we have been supporting in the Sheffield City Region. Similarly, as I continue to grow in my role, I can envisage more delivery work with universities and employers taking me to different areas of the country, where a car as a potential method of transport would definitely be valuable.
While I can’t of course speak for everyone my age or in my situation, I would speculate, based on anecdotes, my friends and some recent data, that there is a significant proportion of young people who, like me, had not seen the need for a car until being in work. DVLA licence figures from 2016 shows just 42% of young people (17-24) in Great Britain hold a driving licence, with this number decreasing. This is interesting, not just for opportune brunch café’s looking to cash-in on the new disposable income from this group, but also as a potential opening for employers and universities. My boss, Rebecca Fielding, has written a fantastic article detailing the benefits of sponsoring driving lessons for employees, so I wont regurgitate all of the fantastic information in that article, rather encourage you to read it (here). As a brief summary however, here are some of the most interesting benefits to businesses:
- Investing in a key skill your employees may need to be successful in their role
- It is a skill that may well benefit them throughout their career, building brand advocacy and goodwill well beyond their time with you. Driving is a meaningful life skill that matters to people in their lives as well as at work
- It's not a huge investment in terms of training and development (in comparison to training courses and accreditations), but it has a very real ROI
- Graduates really like it, ‘get it’ and no-one else is offering it – it can be a real point of difference in adverts.
To this end, Gradconsult have sponsored me to re-take my driving lessons to pass my test again. So far, things are going well (I haven’t hit anyone yet, which I’m pretty sure means I’m doing it right). I am planning on taking my test in the next month or so and passing before the end of the summer. I’m obviously hugely grateful to the business as, while it is not a huge investment for them (relatively speaking) it is a big sum of money that is saved for me and will be very useful in a work and non-work capacity. I’m sure it will allow me to reach more clients and hopefully win more work for the company. Watch this space, and if you see a nervous 23 year old taking his test in a month or two, please be patient!