HGV Driver Shortages – What Can Be Done?

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The shortage in qualified HGV drivers continues to be a major issue within haulage and logistics with both industry leaders and indeed politicians making noises about the growing crisis.

Recent summits by the Freight Transport Agency (FTA) have explicitly addressed the long-standing and ever growing driver shortage crisis while the issue has been brought further into the public conciousness during the election campaign season by those vying for supremacy in Westminster. It was highlighted by George Osborne in the Chancellor’s pre-election budget as a major challenge that UK industry must face up to and has been featured in speeches by David Cameron (addressing the Chamber of Commerce in February).

How Big is the Problem?

Driver shortages in the HGV industry and in logistics in general is a HUGE issue and potentially the greatest challenge that the industry has ever had to face up to. A UK commission in 2014 suggested that the industry had an employee shortfall by around 60,000 people – a number significant enough to place enormous strain on an already overburdened service, especially during peak delivery seasons. Indeed, there were numerous stories in the UK media in the run up to Christmas 2014 suggesting that the shortage may lead to deliveries not arriving in time for the holidays.

What Needs to be Done?

Clearly there is a major and urgent need to find ways to recruit new workers into the industry. In particular, there’s a desperate need for younger workers to take up a position behind the wheel of an HGV.

Adding to the shortage problems is the fact that the current workforce is getting older – the average age of a driver is currently 53 and showing signs that it will rise even higher in the near future. With more drivers reaching retirement age than are actually entering the industry then, inevitably it will only make the shortfall problems worse, unless something can be done to reverse the trend.

With less than 2% of the current UK based workforce aged under 25 and a well documented struggle to attract new employees out of education then it’s imperative that a strategy is found to encourage younger folk to seriously consider HGV driving as a career.

Raise the Profile

One such area that can be addressed is the need to raise the profile of HGV work. It’s a job which seems to have suffered an image crisis in recent years. As the emphasis from an educational perspective has grown increasingly more academic, jobs such as truck driving, have suffered as a consequence.

The industry needs to be reminding younger workers that it is in fact a career with prospects and a job with many positives.

First of all, HGV driving needs to be seen as a viable vocational route for those who are not heading down the academic path. Requiring skills and a high level of training – to the same degree as other vocational trades – can demonstrate the value and reward of such a career. And speaking of reward…

Good Salary Opportunities

Certainly more can be played on the fact that, even as a new starter, the salary for an HGV driver is good and has the potential to be very good as you progress in the industry.

New drivers can earn upwards of £25,000 and, as you develop your skills alongside mastering the technological aspects of the logistics industry, the opportunities to develop and increase your earnings is as good as a vast array of other types of work.

Driving Can Be Cool

And of course, there’s a certain image that can be portrayed which would undoubtedly appeal to many if it was marketed correctly. Driving can be a cool kind of job.

Being in control of a large vehicle, confident in your skills to handle such an important load whilst enjoying the freedom of being out on the road. There are plenty for whom that should appeal.

There Are Jobs Available

Add to the above the fact that, with the current shortfall, there are plenty of jobs available. You know, a skilled vocation, with a good salary and prospects that is essentially quite a cool way to earn a living – AND THERE’S A HUGE DEMAND FOR YOU.