In the sector, there are diverse views about ‘driver shortage’. Some operators suggest it is exaggerated or does not exist, and they are not unable to operate through lack of drivers. Department for Transport statistics show that in 2014, only 1% of LGVs were off the road because of the lack of a driver, whereas 15% were off the road due to no work. Other concerns include that operators feel they are able to recruit but driver quality is the issue; there are concerns about the lack of new, younger drivers coming into the sector; some believe that their competitors source non-UK drivers and this undercuts wages; others cite Driver CPC as an obstacle that is a disincentive to enter the sector or retain a licence when already qualified. And so it goes on…
In its newly published report, the House of Commons Transport Committee suggests there is a driver shortage that may be in the range of 45,000 to 60,000 drivers. It believes that the driver shortage is ‘a shortage of people willing to work in the sector rather than a shortage of people with the right qualifications and licences.’
It identifies a combination of factors as the multiple causes of the shortage:
- lack of investment in drivers and driver training
- poor roadside facilities
- poor terms and conditions
- relative attractiveness of other similar jobs
- costs of licence acquisition
In terms of the driver demographic, the Committee notes that the sector is unrepresentative of society as drivers are mainly over 45 years of age, white and male. 92% of the c.400,000 persons holding both a LGV licence and Driver CPC are male. In 2010, it was found that only 3% came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. It is also suggested young people need to be targeted and assisted with their licence acquisition.
Interestingly the report flags up that here, as in other sectors, a consequence of Brexit may be to adversely affect driver numbers. Of course that issue may resolve itself if in due course the UK’s future arrangements for the employment of non-UK workers end up a little different to the current situation. Conversely, the driver shortage issue may worsen if supply diminishes whilst its causes go unaddressed.
The Committee believes the Department for Transport should take four steps to tackle this issue, as follows:
- coordinate activity across Government affecting LGV drivers
- work with the logistics sector, insurers and those involved in the delivery of driver training to improve apprenticeships, promote the industry, improve the delivery of careers advice, and raise awareness of the road freight sector in colleges and schools and among jobseekers;
- continue to improve the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence; and
- provide clear, accessible guidance on skills, funding and support, employer standards, regulation and insurance for young drivers.
Source: House of Commons Transport Committee: Skills and workforce planning in the road haulage sector – 20 July 2016