Covid-19, Brexit, e-commerce and testing have been identified as core contributors to the HGV driver crisis in the UK and beyond
The logistics sector has warned that a chronic shortage of HGV drivers since Brexit and the COVID-19 lockdown is a challenge to the recovery of the UK economy. Industry associations have said that UK trade is facing a looming crisis for industrial and retail deliveries with a current shortfall of approximately 70,000 drivers. The triple-threat of Brexit halting driver recruitment from the EU, a backlog of at least 30,000 HGV driver tests caused by COVID-19, and recent changes to self-employment tax reforms has led to acute driver shortages. In addition, to add salt to the wounds, we are rapidly approaching peak season with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.
A recent study from Logistics UK identified that almost one in ten logistics businesses say the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of their business. With the UK facing higher unemployment – predicted to be at least 5.5% this year – Logistics UK is urging the government to take immediate action to unlock access to these careers for new recruits to the sector, in order to support the recovery of the UK economy.
Alex Veitch, General Manager for Public Policy at Logistics UK commented, “Our report shows that 29% of logistics businesses anticipate that they will be unable to fill vacancies for HGV drivers this year; a further 14.5% expect long delays before filling a role. With the logistics industry in urgent need of these workers, Logistics UK is urging the government to provide interest-free loans or grants to train or reskill potential employees and help recruit them into the logistics industry.”
The business group is also urging the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to maintain its fast-track programme to catch-up on driving tests that were postponed due to COVID-19 between March and December 2020. Veitch continued, “The backlog has left thousands of potential HGV drivers waiting in the wings when the UK needs them most to support every facet of UK PLC. With a large pool of potential candidates available – owing to the nation’s higher unemployment – we urge the government to make driver training affordable, accessible and attractive for all.”
In early 2021, Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson confirmed that funding for HGV apprenticeships will increase to £7,000 from 1 July, providing better incentives for companies to hire younger and less qualified workers, while also helping to upskill and recruit into the industry. The increase was agreed upon after the road haulage Trailblazer Group (TBG) rejected the previously announced level of £6,000. The group, which helped develop the apprenticeship standard, welcomed the announcement by the education secretary and urged the sector to engage in the process to help solve the driver shortage.
To read the full article see our November/December issue here: November/December 2021 Single Issue form – International Trade Magazine (intrademagazine.com)