Last Updated on January 11, 2024

Last year seen a lot of changes to the learning to drive landscape. With long wait times, strikes and waiting lists for students, but how will this look going into 2024? How will the past year affect new and existing driving instructors? What will the demand for driving instructors be like? 
We are going to recap what the last year has looked like for driving lessons, driving tests and theory tests and see what the demand for ADI’s will look like over the coming year! Whether you are an existing instructor or thinking about becoming a PDI this year, find out all about how the industry is looking. 

What did 2023 look like for driving instructors? 

In 2023 there was a lot of changes within the industry that have had a huge impact on the demand for driving instructors. It seems like ADI’s have been in high demand in 2023. 

DVSA strikes 

In 2023 there were a number of planned driving examiner strikes related to pay and working conditions. The strikes meant potentially thousands of driving tests were to be cancelled for learner drivers. Examiners were planning on striking for improvements in pay, pensions and work conditions. Although the strikes were cancelled, it showed a strain on workers in the DVSA and showed potential issues in the industry.  

Driving test wait times 

Throughout 2023 there has been a backlog of driving tests with the national average car driving test wait time at 18.8 weeks as of 16 October 2023. Lengthy driving test wait times have stemmed from a backlog from Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, recruitment and retention issues in the industry and increased demand for driving tests. Extended wait times have created scheduling challenges and financial impacts on driving instructors as they support their students for extended periods.  

Ready to pass? 

The ”Ready to Pass?” initiative was launched by the DVSA and is designed to ensure that learner drivers are fully prepared before taking their driving test. The initiative is a response to the high demand for driving tests and the need to reduce the number of tests taken by unprepared drivers, which contributes to longer driving test wait times.  

The campaign aims to: 

  • Encourage Preparedness: Encourage learners to take their driving test only when they are fully prepared 
  • Gain Instructor Endorsement: Encourage instructors to honestly assess their student’s readiness and only endorse them they truly believe the learner is ready 
  • Reduce Test Pressure: As candidates are hopefully more fully prepared, the initiative should reduce pressure on the testing system.  
  • Improve Pass Rates: Better prepared candidates should help to improve overall pass rates. As pass rates improve, the backlog should reduce and lead to a more efficient driving test system.  
  • Provide Resources and Guidance: The Ready to Pass website includes a wide range of resources for both instructors and learners.  

The Ready to Pass initiative is not just about passing the driving test but being ready to take on the responsibility of safe driving for life. Driving instructors play a crucial role in the process by providing honest feedback and guidance to their students.   

Practical Driving test and Theory Test Stats 

Official DVSA data shows driving test pass rates averaged 48.8% between January and November 2023, which is slightly higher than 2022’a pass rate 48.1%.  

The increasing pass rate is encouraging, especially when coupled with the number of tests being conducted. The number of average monthly driving tests conducted in 2023 increased by almost 10% to 152,620, up from 138,995 average monthly tests in 2022.  

Whilst higher pass rates and more tests being taken can offer growth opportunities, they also bring challenges and require adaptability. It’s important instructors try to balance the high standards of teaching required, with the realities of the market and increasing demand for services. 

Instructor wait lists 

In a DVSA survey of 5,795 ADI’s, only 29.8% had availability to take on new pupils.  Of the instructors with a waiting list, it was mostly up to three months. Alongside this more instructors had a waitlist of over a year compared to the results in 2022. 

Managing learner driver expectations when faced with a long waiting list is crucial for maintaining a positive and professional reputation. We have some top tips below that you could follow to help manage learners expectations: 

-Clearly communicate from the start and be upfront about waiting times 
-Explain the reasons as to why you might have a backlog 
-Regularly update students about their waiting times and position on your waiting list 
-Offer pre-learning resources to make use of students time waiting 
-Encourage private practice – this can be achieved with learner driver insurance 
-Manage your own schedule efficiently. To review and accommodate as many learners as possible while maintaining a high level of service  

Learner with Driving Instructor Practicing

Assessing demand for driving instructors in 2024 

As for the driving instructor industry going into 2024 it is expected to be more of the same! The DVSA are trying to reduce wait times for driving tests but there is still a lot to be done. “We are currently expecting waiting times to remain long throughout this year and into 2024.” –GOV.UK 
With low theory test pass rates and long wait times for a practical test, it is clear that driving instructors will still be in high demand throughout 2024. There may be added pressure to make sure all students are fully test ready. By ensuring student readiness this will help to deal with the back log of driving test.

There is also the potential for strikes by the DVSA. This is over safety concerns for examiners and candidates due to the backlog in tests. Strikes could mean test cancellations at the start of the year. 
With most driving instructors having a long wait list for students. It shows that there is a high demand for driving instructors as there is a high demand for lessons. The main areas in the UK that are in need of instructors seems to be the north-east and London. In these areas the instructors have less availability to take on new pupils. So, if you want to join the industry 2024 may be a good year to do it! Check out our blog to find out how to become a driving instructor. 

Going into 2024 as a driving instructor 

Overall this year is looking like a busy one for ADI’s and PDI’s with hopefully positive change towards reducing the driving test backlog and improving the theory and driving test pass rates! 
Looking at the year ahead as a new or existing instructor it is a good idea to think about your goals and think about what you want from the year. This could be better time management, finding more students or completing your training. Consider the current landscape of the industry and reflects on how 2023 went to find goals that suit you!  
If you are looking to make a little extra money in 2024 as a driving instructors join the Collingwood Instructor affiliate programme! Then you can refer students for Learner Driver Insurance and earn when they take out a policy!* 
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