According to new data from FREENOW multi mobility app, interest is soaring among aspiring taxi drivers in joining Ireland’s taxi fleet, with a record number of drivers applying for its training programme to help them pass the NTA’s Taxi Driver Entry Test. There has been a two-fold increase in registrations among hopeful drivers since the start of 2023 versus the same period in 2022 (5,205 vs. 2,605), and 69% of new drivers who joined the FREENOW fleet this year have used the training to pass the test – the highest conversion period since the programme first launched in 2017.
Research conducted this month by FREENOW among over 1,000 of its driver partners reveals that 59% of taxi drivers believe the SPSV driver entry test, which requires a 75% pass rate to become a taxi driver, is difficult to pass on the first attempt. This is one of the reasons why FREENOW launched its free online driver test training programme – providing hopeful drivers with practical support in preparation for the test. This year the company is investing €1 million in the continued rollout of its training programme to encourage and support new drivers to join the sector. All drivers who complete the training and subsequently pass their SPSV entry test can avail of a €500 bonus if they register as a driver with FREENOW, helping them with some of their initial start-up costs.
New FREENOW research sheds light on views of a career in the sector and current industry insights. Results indicate positive sentiment among taxi drivers about working in the industry, with over half of those surveyed (56%) stating they would recommend a career as a taxi driver, and 46% believe more people would consider taxi driving if they were aware of the various advantages of the job. According to taxi drivers, the top three benefits of working in the sector include – having more time for family and personal life, the flexibility of choosing their own working schedule, and being their own boss.
While all jobs have pros and cons, a significant proportion of drivers (53%) believe the advantages of being a taxi driver far outweigh the challenges. The data also highlighted that a significant cohort of our taxi driver fleet are long-serving members of the sector, with 36% having worked as a taxi driver for 15 years or more. Interestingly, working as a taxi driver is a job that many have migrated to from an entirely different career path – the vast majority of drivers (81%) surveyed became a taxi driver after working in a completely separate sector. The research also indicates that new drivers are entering the sector since the pandemic with 24% of FREENOW drivers having joined the fleet in the past two years.
Commenting on the driver training programme, Niall Carson, General Manager at FREENOW Ireland, said: “It is great to see the rising number of hopeful taxi drivers registering for our training programme as it reflects fresh interest in careers within the taxi sector. We now have 250 candidates registering on average every week and 20% of our driver partners overall have joined the FREENOW fleet having successfully completed the training. The NTA has been doing great work to encourage new drivers to the sector with its recruitment campaign launched last year, and it’s reassuring to see the volume of new licences they have administered in the past 12 months. We hope to see our national taxi fleet continue to strengthen following the dip in drivers experienced during the pandemic years, as more people consider the very real benefits of a career in the taxi sector. And we are committed to continue doing what we can to support and welcome new driver partners to the FREENOW fleet too with 82% of drivers stating that using a mobility app helps them secure more bookings and allows them to have a better workflow, than operating without the support of an app.”