There is a current estimated shortfall of 70,000 HGV drivers. The Road Haulage Association said the crisis has been triggered by multiple factors such as Brexit, which has led to a reduction in the number of European truckers on our roads and to Covid, which has mean that no new HGV drivers have been trained for a year resulting in a backlog of thousands of driving tests.
As businesses have got back to work, companies were expecting to see more buoyant trading conditions but almost one in ten logistics business (9.8%) say that the recruitment of drivers has created an extreme barrier to the recovery of their business.
One of the main issues influencing the driver shortage is the demographic of the current workforce, which is heavily reliant on male employees who are aged 45 years+. Making driver training affordable, accessible and attractive, improving rest stops and other facilities for drivers, and attracting a younger and more diverse workforce are critical issues to address.
The minimum age of a HGV truck driver which stands at 21 years, also eliminates a vast pool of potential workers, particularly those who fall in the 18-20 age cohort which also suffers the highest rate of unemployment in the UK.
The shortage of drivers has become so extreme that the military has been put on standby to deliver groceries to stores, pubs, restaurants and care homes. James Bielby, chief executive of the FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors) has highlighted the gravity of the current situation: ‘It has reached crisis point and it is likely to get worse as more hospitality venues open and demand increases. The Government needs to act very quickly.’