The nationwide driver shortage has highlighted many problems within the industry, and the government’s understanding of how to deal with it. Many issues are simply the result of unresolved flaws in the driving industry that have remained low on the radar for years, such as persistent low wages, reliance on workers from the EU, and an ageing workforce.
The amenities and infrastructure on UK roads, or lack thereof, as well as long hours have also driven a younger workforce away from the industry. All of this, combined with a pandemic, has meant that the lorry driver shortage in the UK – roughly 100,000 at the moment – must be met with change and improvement in order to solve the crisis.
One of the potential solutions to the driver shortage is by creating an improved testing system in order to help reduce the backlog of tests, which were briefly stopped during the pandemic.
At the moment, the government is expected to streamline the qualifications required to drive class C large rigid lorries and class C & E heavy goods vehicles into a single test. The current requirements for those wanting to become lorry drivers have to get a car licence, a provisional class C licence and then the full C licence, before applying for the provisional class C & E licence and then going on to pass that test.
Ministers are also expected to allow another element of the tests, showing an ability to conduct manoeuvres such as reversing, to be carried out without the current requirement for a driving examiner.
This would help drivers become qualified quicker and more easily. But would this be the solution to everything?
Mapping the future
Another challenge posed by the driver shortage is how to attract the younger generation to the roles. There were plans to subsidise the workers who have left the UK by enrolling members of the army, however, this has now been delayed until March 2022.
In the meantime, drivers who are over the age of 45 account for almost two-thirds of the workforce, a rate that has been increasing since the early 2000s. The industry needs to ensure that it is an attractive role for those who are looking for work under the age of 45, before the shortage increases even further.
That might mean providing better wages – which we have seen is now in motion. Research by Indeed has shown that wages have been hiked seven times the UK average, which may well help roles become more appealing to younger people.
At Barnes Logistics, we prioritise the welfare of our drivers and are helping to ensure logistics is an attractive and viable option for those looking for a career. We’re proud to call ourselves one of the UK’s leading providers of logistical support and warehousing to time-critical businesses.