Tackling Driver Shortage in the UK

Over the past decade, the UK road transport industry has become afflicted with a shortage of professional heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) drivers. Between 2008 and 2013, there was a drop of 25% in new vocational driving license applications and the rate of new entrants has been steadily dropping since.

The high cost of licence acquisition is a main reason why many are reluctant to step in for the ageing HDV driver workforce. Another is young peoples’ poor image of the sector. As a result, multiple industry associations are taking action by introducing programmes and campaigns geared toward encouraging new driver talent.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has recently begun rolling out training schemes and educational programmes. As chief executive Richard Burnett says: “[We are facing] a shortage of between 45,000-50,000 HGV drivers and we as an industry need to face this challenge head-on.” Last month, the RHA teamed up with a merchant banking group to fund 20 apprenticeships in a bid to aid smaller fleets recruit a new generation of drivers. Another scheme by the RHA, in collaboration with Microlise, features a national training programmed called Road to Logistics designed to help individuals most in need to find their footing in transport and logistics.

But the driver shortage issue does not come down only to lack of new entrants; there is also the problem of older drivers leaving the industry at a faster rate. For one, the introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) in 2009 seems to be pushing older drivers toward early retirement. Other developments in regulation such as health requirements for drivers are likely to worsen the situation, considering nearly half of HGV drivers are older than 50.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is another institution at the forefront in tackling driver shortage. Beyond funding programmes and professional training, they are also devoted to implementing “a quicker turnaround of medical queries by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency”. Their campaigning efforts also focus on engaging with the public to promote the importance of the haulage industry.

For more information on their work, access the FTA’s Driver Shortage Report 2016 here.

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