Much has been made in the past year of the shortage of HGV drivers and other logistics workers. But after a challenging 12 months for the sector, a new report published by business group Logistics UK shows there is cause for cautious optimism that the situation will improve.
The Logistics UK Skills Report 2021 reveals that significant steps have been taken to help address the recruitment issues which have plagued the sector for years, with government and industry working together to increase capacity to test new drivers, provide new training schemes, and commit to improving facilities available to those working across the roads network.
But as Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK explains, while there has been progress, there is still much work to do: “The flexibility and resilience of our sector in coping with a smaller workforce, coupled with issues caused by Brexit and supply chain disruption caused by worldwide container shipping issues, have been incredible,” she says, “and with higher wages now helping to plug the gaps in employment for companies which can afford them and an increase in HGV driver tests of 25.6% and three-fold increase in applications for vocational provisional licences, there is hope that the shortage of HGV drivers will ease.
“However, this is not cause for complacency just yet; although average driver pay surged 10% in the nine months to October 2021 in order to retain existing staff and attract new drivers, smaller fleet operators are still not back to full fleet capacity after the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown, and their inability to compete for drivers by offering higher wages appears to be hindering their efforts to recruit new staff.
“Government announcements to help address issues across our sector, including increasing driver testing throughput, funding Skills Bootcamps to train HGV drivers and a commitment to improved overnight parking provision, have been at pace. There needs to be continued focus from government to ensure they are delivered, so business and industry can take full advantage and continue to raise awareness of logistics and the opportunities it offers.”
The Logistics UK Skills Report 2021 has been compiled in partnership with independent research agency Repgraph. A copy of the report can be downloaded here: https://logistics.org.uk/campaigns/logistics-uk-skills-and-employment-advice-hub/logistics-uk-s-skills-and-employment-report