Commons Select Committee Confirms Significant Driver Shortage

IMG_8547The Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) have been saying it for years. The road transport industry is short a significant number of drivers.

This is a fact that has now been confirmed by MPs on the Transport Committee who have today warned that current thinking and action is not enough to address the shortage, deal with future growth or cope with the ageing profile of drivers retiring in the next ten years.

The associations have estimated a current shortfall of 45,000–60,000 drivers with another 40,000 due to leave the industry by 2017.

What the Select Committee Said
Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman MP, said: “This is not a new challenge. The road haulage sector has been short of skilled drivers for the last ten years. The familiar profile of the professional driver – over 45, white and male – will need to adapt.

“Industry and Government need to get their heads together and come up with a plan which focusses on recruitment and retention. After years of under-investment in the sector, let’s encourage skilled drivers back into their cabs by improving the image of the profession, revisiting pay and conditions and providing proper and secure facilities at depots and on the roadside.

“Who are the drivers of the future? Let’s look to female drivers, young drivers and BAME drivers, currently under-represented in the sector. Government and industry should review apprenticeships, reduce training costs and insurance, and demonstrate clear career progression.

“If people are unwilling to work in the sector, it is up to industry and Government to change perceptions. Almost everything we use in our daily lives has, at some point, been transported by a large goods vehicle. UK PLC relies on them.”

Microlise Establishes Road to Logisitcs
At Microlise we couldn’t agree more and have put our resources behind a new not-for-profit scheme aimed at attracting new recruits from untapped sources. Road to Logistics, launched at the Microlise Transport Conference, is a close collaboration between Microlise Executive Director Bob Harbey and RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett. Additional support is being provided by Care after Combat, the charity chaired by Jim Davidson OBE.

Road to Logistics is working closely with services charity Care after Combat and the prison service to identify potential recruits for the programme. Following interviews and employability assessment, the organisation will fund and support new recruits through professional licence training before placing them in an appropriate job.

The first cohort of individuals have already begun a programme of activity that will end with them securing qualifications such as HGV licences, to enable them to begin a career in the transport and logistics industry. Major hauliers have already begun to allocate vacancies and will accept the first new drivers to complete the programme.

This is one of a number of initiatives to resolve this potential crisis for our industry. If we can collectively take responsibility and work with government, the profesisonal associations and each other, it is a challenge we can overcome.