In the latest Labour Force Survey published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) HGV driver shortages continue to be a major concern. The shortage has been caused by several factors, including Covid, an ageing workforce, and Brexit. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) stated that HGV drivers retiring was the biggest reason for a shortage. Data shows the average HGV driver is 55, therefore, around 150,000 drivers are close and expected to retire within the next 10 years. Additionally, a report showed that EU nationals made up around 13.5% of the workforce. However, when Brexit was announced, 79,000 workers had to leave the UK, resulting in the UK with 10% less HGV drivers. Nevertheless, recent statistics show a slight improvement in comparison to previous quarters.
The Improvement of HGV Shortages
Business group Logistics UK have predicted that this positive movement is due to the UK government initiatives. Deputy Director at Logistics UK, Sarah Watkins, comments, “Government and industry have worked hard to address the key issues which have affected the recruitment of HGV drivers in the past. The reduction in numbers of HGV drivers in employment, generally caused by retirements or shifts into other careers, slowed in the first quarter of 2022, compared with the second half of 2021, which illustrates how actions such as increased wages for drivers, drivers’ skills bootcamps and improved throughputs of testing by DVSA are beginning to address the loss of skilled workers which we have seen in the recent past.”
HGV drivers in employment has fallen by 30,000 in the first quarter of 2022, researched shows. Although this figure is still significantly high, it is a reduction in numbers from Q3 and Q4 2021. At the start of 2022, the DVSA reported that there were 26,388 practical HGV tests conducted. This is an increase of 43% compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, March 2022 showed a pass rate of 60% of the 10,481 tests taken.
As well as additional testing and licence changes, other incentives have included increased wages. The salaries advertised have increased by an average of 25% in Q1 2022 compared with a year ago. This was to incentivise and retain existing drivers as well as attract new ones. Likewise, HGV drivers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 70% from Q1 2019 to Q1 2022.
“Such a large increase in the number of HGV tests being undertaken is testament to the work being done by DVSA to address its testing backlog, alongside the industry’s commitment to encourage new recruits to join the industry.”
The Future For HGV Drivers
While there is a small positive movement towards the recovery of the trucking industry, attracting and retaining drivers is still a high priority. Therefore, it is imperative that initiatives continue to maintain and attract new recruits. The UK Government have outlined a 33 point action plan to further reduce the HGV driver shortage including:
- Increasing efficiency in existing supply chains
- Providing support and training for new HGV drivers
- Expanding HGV driver testing capacity and improving licencing processes
- Attracting drivers back to the sector and improving conditions
- Ensuring the stability of the fuel supply chain
- Economic measures to support the haulage industry
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