FTA to Hold Summit on New Driver Recruitment

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Continuing the industry’s drive to solve, or at the very least ease, the ongoing driver shortage issue, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have announced that their annual conference in March will be a summit aimed at tackling the issue. More specifically, the summit will look at ways in which the industry, and one would hope, the Government, can encourage new recruits into the work force.

Attract, Recruit, Retain

To be held at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena on March 17th, the summit, entitled ‘Attract, Recuit, Retain’ will play host to a range of key note speakers from within freight transport, haulage and logistics, as well as specialists in recruitment. Through the speeches and a series of workshops the aim is for business leaders to come away with renewed strategies to attract new drivers and make further inroads on the current huge shortfall (anywhere between 30 and 60 thousand, dependent on which article you read).

In addition, however, to simply looking at recruitment issues, the summit will also look into ongoing training schemes and ideas around the general retention of drivers and employees once they’ve entered the industry.

After all, it’s all well and good attracting recruits but you need to incentivise and give encouragement to stay in the industry thereafter.

It’s a summit which hopes to build upon the success of last year’s similarly themed conference, entitled: ‘The Driver Crisis Summit’ after which, industry insiders suggest helped foster ‘slight improvements’ .

Commenting on the issue, FTA Deputy Chief James Hookham said: “The past 12 months have seen a slight improvement in the number of unfilled driver vacancies across the sector, and the Government’s recognition of the need to professionalise the industry through its new HGV Driver Trailblazer Apprenticeships is a huge step forward.

“However, there is still a great deal to be done to make the industry more attractive and to help employers recruit and retain staff. We need to improve the public perception of logistics and make it a desirable place to work. The summit will build on the success of last year’s event and help employers to develop effective strategies for recruitment and retention.”

Fostering Government Involvement

Key to any recruitment incentives would be additional support from the Government. Recent announcements from Chancellor George Osborne seems to point to the fact that, at the very least, the Government are ever more aware of the issue.

Certianly the FTA see the best direction being a greater partnership approach with the powers that be at Westminster, continuing to lobby and use forums such as the upcoming summit to keep the message in the public arena. Something which has, it seems, prompted some positive response from the Dept of Work and Pensions, with Senior Business Sector Manager, Alex Farkas quoted as saying: “The Department for Work and Pensions looks forward to working with the industry to help it engage with our Jobcentre Plus candidates and promote how Universal Credit can help companies overcome recruitment issues.”

It’s an issue that won’t go away anytime soon, with haulage firms and the industry in general at pains to raise the importance of finding new drivers. With an ever aging and retiring work force and not enough taking their place, driver shortage continues to place a major strain on the country’s logistics capability.

The summit will be help over the course of 17th March 2016 and is a free to attend event for all within the industry. That being said, places are limited and tickets will be available on a first come, first serve basis.