Following on from a meeting about the HGV driver shortage last month between executives from the FTA and Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, it is now the turn of the RHA, who has now been called to meet with Treasury officials next Friday.
Following continued demand from the RHA, treasury officials have invited them to a meeting next Friday (20th February) to look into the issues with having an aging workforce with the average age of UK HGV drivers being 53 years old with 13% over 60 and a miniscule 2% under the age of 25.
Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive said: “This is a major milestone for the Association and for the industry as a whole. UK haulage operators are responsible for the efficient and cost effective movement of 85% of all goods transported. Their job is, quite literally, to move the economy. However, that can only be achieved with a strong and thriving driver workforce.’’
He continued “We are currently 40,000 drivers short. 45,000 are due to retire in the next two years, not including those who have to leave for medical reasons or who have found another job but only 17,000 are entering the industry annually. Do the maths, this has become an untenable situation. At a time of economic recovery, the Chancellor now presides over the future of the UK haulage industry”.
Richard Burnett, Chief Executive, RHA
One of the major issues faced in the UK is the perception of the job of a HGV driver from both inside and outside the industry. Many HGV drivers feel that they are constantly being targeted with the introduction of new rules and fines. The amount of drivers we have spoken to who are fed up with the job is staggering. Reasons include poor pay, long hours, to many fines for things out of their control and the way they are looked upon by other people including in some cases their own company.
The rates of pay for UK HGV drivers can vary greatly as do the standards and professionalism of the haulage companies, a situation that is slowly changing as better regulation and inspection weeds out the less professional operators. Although these new regulations and inspections are also potentially scaring off new drivers and new haulage companies from starting out.
Many haulage companies were keen to employ drivers from other EU member countries due to the lack of UK drivers available. This was not always with satisfactory outcomes as there were many poorly qualified drivers holding questionable qualifications. In countries where driving is looked at as a true profession the bar is usually set high in terms of training and qualifications, therefore the rewards tend to be comparative.
As the driver shortage gets worse the rates of pay should inevitably rise, this is simply supply and demand. Those new drivers that are entering the industry will be faced with harder theory tests and more regulation knowledge requirements.
Let’s see how the meeting pans out and what agenda the RHA have. We are sure the RHA will be putting pressure on the government to assist with better training programs and possible help to fund new drivers getting qualified.
You can read more about the issues the industry faces attracting young drivers here.