The news has been full of the lorry driver shortage, and the impact this is having on the logistics sector. Supplies of food, pharmaceuticals and other essentials are all under threat, because there simply aren’t enough drivers to transport goods.
At 24-7 Staffing, we take a keen interest in what is happening to the road haulage industry. As leading independent recruiters for drivers, we see first-hand the impact this nationwide shortage of drivers is having.
So it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise to find that the government really appears to be listening.
In an open letter to the UK logistics sector, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, along with Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and George Eustace, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, laid out plans to support this beleaguered sector.
They started by thanking road haulage key workers for “keeping food, medicine and other vital goods moving around the country. Your dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated”.
The measures proposed in the letter are aimed at targeting recruitment and retention in the sector. As recruiters, we know that becoming a driver incurs training and insurance fees which can act as a deterrent. Equally, drivers tend to leave the sector at a relatively young age.
Already the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has increased the throughput, to tackle the backlog of those waiting to take their HGV driving tests, and work is being done to increase capacity further.
Other measures being discussed, to speed up recruitment, include:
- Allowing candidates to jump straight to taking an articulated lorry test without first passing a rigid lorry practical test
- Delegation of off-road manoeuvres as part of the HGV driving test, to free up testing capacity
- Removal of the requirement for new car licence holders to take extra tests to drive car/van and trailer combinations.
A significant barrier to the driving profession is the cost of training. To address this, the government is increasing funding available for large goods vehicle driver apprentices and is considering introducing a second, urban driver, apprenticeship.
The letter also addresses recruitment, both attracting new people to the sector and encouraging drivers to return.
The letter states: “Large numbers of EU nationals have settled status or pre-settled status in the UK and continue to be an important part of the lorry driving workforce. But for the future workforce we will need to develop people resident in the UK as opposed to specifically providing visas for this group of workers.”
Drivers’ working hours rules have already been relaxed for the short-term, but longer term relaxation is being considered.
To encourage driver retention, the government has pledged to work to improve parking, and the quantity and quality of overnight facilities.
Overall, at 24-7 Staffing we are pleased with the content of the letter, but we believe this is just a start. More needs to be done by industry and the government to overcome the shortage in the long-term.
If you are looking for driving roles, or if you are a business seeking to recruit drivers, please get in touch with the expert recruiters at 24-7 Staffing. We work across Chippenham, Salisbury, Bristol, Wiltshire and the South West, matching clients and candidates.