A Full Complement of Drivers is Not Just for Christmas

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation released a new report this week in which it warned of a serious threat to Christmas deliveries, due to a shortage of drivers.

According to the study, a huge fall in the availability of temporary and contract staff in recent weeks, especially drivers, could lead to a “sad” Christmas as gifts go undelivered or are delivered too late for the big day.

Quoted on the independent.co.uk website, Chief Executive of the Confederation, Kevin Green said: “More than two thirds of recruiters that supply drivers said a shortage of candidates will cause chaos for shops and delayed deliveries for shoppers.”

The Road Haulage Association warned in October that the sector was short of up to 50,000 workers. “Thousands of older drivers are leaving the industry and younger people can’t afford the £3,000 for a truck licence,” said chief executive, Richard Burnett, adding that “this shortage is grave and presents a real threat to Christmas and to economic growth.”

Meanwhile in September, the Freight Transport Association, which has quoted even higher figures for the shortage, said that this is one of the two most challenging issues faced by transport managers, according to a survey of more than 265 O-license nominated transport managers.

This scenario is beginning to sound very familiar. In the lead up to Christmas 2014 the then transport secretary warned, with six weeks to go to Christmas, that the public should make sure they shop early to not be disappointed by a potential supply line crisis affected by a lack of drivers. The UK’s second largest delivery firm then went on to temporarily suspend services in mid-December last year.

This latest research from REC suggests that there is a very real possibility of similar events happening again this year as the Christmas crunch period reaches its climax.

At Microlise we feel very strongly that this is a topic that must be taken more seriously by government; though we recognise that there is more to the situation than this. We must remove the barriers to entry for young people setting out in this career by helping them to fund their own training and helping companies to reduce insurance premiums so that they can employ young drivers on a larger scale. We must also make driving a more desirable and more visible choice for youngsters when they are setting out into the world of work.

Unfortunately, I think it’s too late for this Christmas, though hopefully we will learn that this crisis will not go away and must be addressed long before the jingle bells ring next year.

Thank you to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation for bringing a chronic issue into the public consciousness. It’s clear that having a full complement of drivers should be a priority all year – not just at Christmas.

The Microlise Driver of the Year awards aim to recognise the UK’s most talented HGV drivers – acknowledging the vital work they do and the professionalism with which they carry out their work.