Published: 12 October 2015
The UK’s largest logistics group, Wincanton, call for action to train more HGV drivers as the driver shortage poses real threat to the industry.
Online shoppers may have to wait longer for their purchases to be delivered as the HGV driver shortage nears crisis level, warns Wincanton.
Julie Welch, HR Director at Wincanton, warns that as well as deliveries taking longer to arrive at customer’s homes, the cost for delivery could rise as businesses fight over professional, qualified drivers which would cause an increase in wages.
Wincanton, who have around 5,500 HGV drivers, are calling for action from the industry and the government to tackle the problem before it causes serious issues to the wider economy and starts to impact shoppers directly in their pockets.
Recent figures from the FTA show that the UK needs another 60,000 HGV drivers in addition to the 326,000 already qualified HGV drivers working in the UK. The issue is there are only 20,000 new HGv drivers entering the industry each year.
Ms Welch told the Telegraph: “It won’t be a case of turkeys not being on supermarket shelves for Christmas, because the large companies can put more resources into the problem,”
“It will be smaller deliveries, such as those that end up in consumers’ homes, which will become much more delayed. Companies like Amazon could be affected. The big food retailers that do home deliveries could raise minimum spending levels to make them more cost-effective as they seek efficiencies,”
The shortage of qualified HGV drivers is being fuelled by the age profile of existing drivers. More than half of the UK’s HGV drivers are over 50 and facing retirement according to the RHA.
The haulage industry is struggling to attract younger drivers to join the industry with fewer than 5% of HGV drivers being under 25.
There have been concerns that there is too much red tape preventing people from entering a job which can pay £35,000 a year, with higher rates of pay for specialised qualifications such as driving chemical or fuel tankers.
Ms Welch said: “Rightly so, but health and safety laws now stop young people from spending a day in a lorry’s cab and getting to see what the job is about, people don’t get to learn about a career that pays well and has chances to progress.”
The high cost of becoming a professional HGV driver is also preventing people joining the industry according to the RHA.
“Getting a truck licence costs somewhere between £3,000 and £5,000 – a huge amount of money for people trying to enter the industry – and most haulage businesses are small family companies who run on very small margins, so they too struggle to fund the training.”
Wincanton have now joined with industry bodies to lobby the government to increase funding to the industry to support apprenticeships and training programmes for HGV drivers.
Founder of Returnloads.net, Richard Newbold, said ‘’something needs to be done about the HGV driver shortage before it has a negative impact on the economy. Funding schemes to help attract new drivers is a great idea but efforts also need to go into improving the role itself to retain existing drivers.’’
‘’If conditions are not improved then we will continue to see qualified drivers leaving the industry, basic changes like improving facilities and treating drivers with respect. Once the countries existing drivers feel like they are appreciated for the work they do this will have a positive impact on attracting new blood to the industry.’’
‘’When someone is enjoying their job they will tell others the positive aspects, when they are not enjoying it they will only spread the negative. Let’s start looking at things from the driver’s point of view and look to make their job more rewarding’’