About the industry
Whilst being a driving instructor is an enjoyable and rewarding career, it is important that you are not fooled into buying a training course for the wrong reasons. Beware many driving schools advertising job opportunities are really driving instructor training companies in disguise who make most if not all their income from selling overpriced training of a poor quality. Some companies are experts at getting you to part with your money in just a few days from your initial call. It is easy to be fooled, these companies do look very credible and the proposition unbelievably tempting.
This problem was highlighted on the Trevor MacDonald ITV Tonight news programme entitled "How to blow your redundancy money". Although Red driving school was the only company featured on this programme in this regard there are others who operate in a similar manner.
Before you invest time and money on training it is important that you are able to distinguish between those who genuinely want to recruit you and those who simply want to enrol you onto an expensive training course. The more guarantees a company appears to offer the more likely they are to fall into the latter category.
All the major driving schools (e.g. LDC, BSM and the AA) train their own driving instructors. Up until about 20 years ago, the national driving schools did virtually all the training in the UK and there were only a few small independent training establishments.
However, since then, driving instructor training has become very big business and a number of large companies have emerged and several established driving schools have switched to selling driving instructor training as their driving schools declined or failed. Such schools often make over 90% of their income from selling driving instructor training and less than 10% operating the actual driving school, whereas genuine driving schools such as LDC, BSM and the AA the exact opposite is probably true. Also the number of training courses sold by such companies is totally disproportionate to the number of driving instructors they have or indeed could possible hope to support if not for the fact that the vast majority will fail. Even those few that do pass are often so disillusioned they go on to complete their training with and/or join other companies.
It is clear to see where the priorities of such companies lie and what the real driving force is behind them. Companies who use in-car intensive training methods (particularly for Part 3) which often overwhelms and only serves to confuse the trainee. Companies who use more than one trainer per trainee on the in-car training resulting in loss of continuity, conflicting advice and no one trainer taking responsibility for the trainees success or failure. Companies who share the training with trainees of differing abilities or at different levels in the course resulting in training that is not focused to the needs of the individual. Training that is designed to train the masses as cheaply and easily as possible with little or no regard for the individual. While mass production methods might be a great way to build cars it is certainly not a good way to train people to become driving instructors.
Genuine driving schools like BSM, the AA and LDC recruit and train driving instructors in a measured way to meet their requirements and realistic plans. They recruit responsibly such that they know they can support them both in the training and indeed the job thereafter. Whereas these other driving schools need to sell driving instructor training courses in massive quantities to survive and as a consequence probably have little or no regard to the final outcome. Businesses that are little more than driving instructor training factories using mass production training methods that are often inadequate, impersonal and ineffective.
Due to ignorance and misinformation thousands of people each year buy driving instructor training courses from such companies. Unfortunately more often than not they go on to waste the money they have spent or end up with a large debt to repay. This is why the ITV Tonight programme chose to focus on this alarming trend and Red driving school in particular who are by far the biggest mass trainer of driving instructors in the UK, training in the region of 10,000 candidates per year. According to this programme despite the large number of courses sold only 23% of people who embarked upon training to become a driving instructor actually go on to qualify. With LDC of those who complete their training 84% qualify.
According to the latest figures published in the DSA Annual Report the number who applied to become driving instructors in that year was 18,157 whereas the number who finally qualified and were entered onto the Register of Approved Driving Instructors was only 4,368 (2,935 were removed or left) giving a total of 45,961 on the Register at the end of April 2010. Some training organisations must have appallingly high failure rates and are clearly profiting at both the public and industry's expense.
The type of misleading information that can be given by some training companies is also covered in the FAQ’s section of this website which deals with the common questions asked and the less than truthful answers often given.