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UK HGV driver shortages

Posted on 22/12/2016 by Lee Hiskett

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With most job vacancies heavily oversubscribed, it may be surprising to discover that there's one well-paid career suffering serious shortages.

According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there are currently tens of thousands of driving vacancies across the UK.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett states "We are short of between 45,000 and 50,000 drivers and the situation is getting worse."

Last spring an agency began to offer Eastern European lorry drivers cash incentives because of the sheer shortage of qualified UK drivers. Given that many older drivers are leaving the industry, the shortfall is not being taken up by new younger drivers as they cannot afford the £3,000 truck licence fee.

Fortunately the UK Government has promised to look into finding a solution to this issue, David Cameron adding he will evaluate the right level of access to and funding support for training.

Christmas deliveries in the UK may well have been affected by this shortage of lorry drivers as the potential pool of qualified drivers shrank to an all-time low since records began in 2005. A November survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed that 83% of recruitment companies supplying temporary drivers to retailers and supermarkets were anticipating driver shortages for the run up to Christmas.

The Office of National Statistics reported the number of unemployed drivers was virtually zero with just 520 HGV drivers in the UK claiming jobseekers allowance.

But hundreds if not thousands of extra temp drivers are needed for the Christmas period. Demand will not fall but the supply of available drivers has.

Jack Semple, policy director for the RHA states there in an endemic shortage which the industry is working hard to resolve. Figures from the FTA (Freight Transport Association) published in October this year has calculated an additional 35,000 addition lorry drivers are needed.

Specialist EU recruiters are reporting driver applications have dropped by 80% compared with last year following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Currently around 10% of lorry drivers in the UK are EU nationals according to the FTA.

Combining the drop in the number of EU nationals wanting to work in the UK, the high costs of HGV licences, difficult working conditions and the possibility of other employment opportunities including van driving jobs indicated the chronic shortage of qualified lorry drivers will not be going away any time soon.