Can you ever imagine what life would be like without the convenience of next day delivery? Or perhaps you were hoping an item in your favourite shop was getting restocked so you could buy it during your next trip to your local high street but to no avail? Imagine that suddenly, multiple people are reporting that their goods have not been delivered on time or supermarkets are not receiving their regular orders. This is certainly a scenario that may not be out of the ordinary, reflecting a future, where the driver shortage has gone too far and put an obstacle in the smooth-running of the UK’s supply chain.
It is without a doubt that logistics and professional drivers are the lifeblood for not only the UK supply chain but also the economy. This was strengthened by a recent statement from the FTA’s Peter Snelling who said that “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.”
In light of the current difficulties that the industry is facing, specifically the skills gap and the uncertainty presented by Brexit, logistics operators and HGV drivers are still working hard to meet the needs of customers and keeping shops stocked. The upcoming deadline of Brexit is expected to worsen the situation as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK.
In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was cited that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of the current skills shortage; which begs the question of how much longer the industry can keep its head above the parapet? It is imperative that changes are made.
The industry is facing an ageing workforce with a small number of young entrants, which is partly down to the lack of education on career paths. It is important now more than ever to change young people’s perceptions and correct any misconceptions. Statistics from the FTA advise that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being 53 years old and the over 50s age group represent 47% of all drivers.
The FTA has advised the Government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a new Training Levy, leading to more opportunities for vocational training, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce.
There can often be expectation for school pupils to access the career paths, what has become over the past decade, the ‘traditional’ way through university. The importance of professional driving jobs needs to be conveyed as they contribute to the success of the UK’s supply chain. The Government could certainly use its platform to raise awareness of jobs in the logistics industry.
Clarity on Brexit is needed, and it is the country’s political and trade uncertainties that has initially affected the number of drivers from the EU working in the UK. We need to see a change in the industry and great urgency is needed to break out of the ageing workforce to keep the supply chain afloat.
What do you think can be done? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Barnes_Logistic.