Does an aging workforce mean an unavoidable driver shortage?

Published: 17 September 2019

Does an aging workforce mean an unavoidable driver shortage?
Recently, various training schemes have been launched in an effort to combat the driver shortage analysts predict will become an increasing problem in the coming years for many businesses in the country. For waste companies in particular, this could be an increasingly large problem. Which is why many waste firms have invested into the scheme to develop a more permanent work force as many waste companies have begun to rely on agencies to find drivers.

The FTA predict that around 15% of current driver vacancies will not be filled due to the shortage. This will be due to the nationwide skill shortage, according to a survey carried out involving 500 freight and logistics business operating in the UK and on an international scale.

Speaking on the matter, head of Skills for FTA, Sally Gilson stated:

 “An ageing workforce, competition for skilled staff, and shifting migration patterns – in part in response to Brexit – mean we are facing serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of labour for key logistics roles. After all, the average age of a HGV driver is 48 years, as found in the survey, and 13 per cent of HGV drivers working in the UK are EU nationals; their continued residency is not guaranteed post-Brexit.”
The FTA are also hosting a one day Labour Shortages Conference, during which they plan to offer advice for business attendees on how to increase recruitment for training staff. Sally Gilson elaborated on the reasoning behind this further: “FTA’s Labour Shortages Conference will arm companies with the practical knowledge and tools they need to face these challenges head on.”

In Edinburgh, waste management firm NWH group created a recruitment programme in the hopes of bringing more interest to the roles available at the company. HR and Recruitment consultant Rhys Donaldson, gave his views in light of recent events:

 “Whilst there is still most definitely an industry-wide driver shortage, the Academy ensures that our new recruits are trained to meet the standards that NWH sets in driving behaviour, compliance, safety and customer service which are all closely linked to our company values.

“Our way of training ensures that drivers are as well prepared as possible for this, as well as ensuring they have a strong understanding of the administrative and commercial side of our business.”

Many other waste management companies have introduced similar strategies to drive up recruitment for hauliers, with more facilities available for training – firms hope that this will increase public interest in taking on such a role. Meaning that the shortage that many analysts are claiming is inevitable can be avoided, or at least handled to the point it doesn’t have any major consequences for trade or waste management within the haulage industry. With a new generation of drivers at the ready, the average age of drivers will decrease and any form of shortage will likely be avoided.
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