It’s been hard to avoid the news throughout the past months about the shortage that the UK haulage industry has been suffering from in terms of drivers for HGVs. But how serious is the situation, and what can be done to remedy it?
In November, the Financial Times reported that that the level of drivers “shrank to its lowest levels since records began in 2005.” Although this means that levels of unemployment amongst drivers was, conversely, at its lowest point with unemployed drivers virtually a non-existent concept in 2016.
So, what’s caused this shortage? Some claim that less immigrant drivers are choosing to work in the UK. Others place the blame on the high cost of HGV licences. However, many believe that new workers are simply being tempted by other areas of work, including non-driving careers and driving smaller vehicles.
The Road Haulage Association also noted that this year the industry may stand to lose a further 20,000 drivers as current drivers retire. But there is certainly no lack of young people looking for better jobs than the abundant zero-hours contracts – so where’s the gap? The Guardian believe that the Government may to be blame as they expect new drivers to pay for their own courses to become fully qualified, with “long waits to do so, due to lack of government examiners.”
So, how can this be remedied? It is clear that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits of the life as a HGV driver. Such as the advantage of a more autonomous working life, and the satisfaction of the responsibilities. It is a job for ambitious people who want to take themselves to new places in a fulfilling career, and the Government should aid this as it does with other industry apprenticeships and training.
A further factor is the stereotype of HGV driving being a male profession – an issue which we at Barnes Logistics have written about previously. There are several new technologies such as hydraulic lifting equipment which will help encourage women to uptake this rewarding career, but the male-dominant atmosphere is one which will not be fixed quickly. Luckily there are incredible groups such as ‘Women in Logistics’ which supports women throughout the whole of the logistics sector.
Let’s hope that 2017 will bring Britain out of its shortage, and we will see an influx of new recruits ready to take up the wheel and pursue their career.