While many have been raising the issue of a truck driver shortage for decades, the problem has accelerated this year.
According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there is a truck driver shortage amounting to 60,000 drivers. The scale of the deficit is having a significant effect on businesses, with many reaching a crisis point.
The impact will be felt across multiple sectors, with customers left feeling the cost as higher prices arise. From supermarket consumers down to those who rely on deliveries from builders merchants, driver shortages are a significant problem.
How Brexit Has Hit Lorry Drivers
The Road Haulage Association comments that there were 60,000 EU truck drivers working in the UK before Brexit. With this figure equalling the shortfall, it is impossible to ignore that Brexit has had a major impact.
Many lorry drivers that were EU citizens had to return home because they did not meet the criteria for remaining in the UK. As, unfortunately, HGV truck drivers are not included in the list of eligible skilled occupations in the new immigration system.
RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, told Roads Minister Baroness Vere, that “The need for action is clear and urgent.” He further commented that “We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is getting worse. The situation must be addressed right now.”
The government claims to be working with haulage firms on this and advises investing in the domestic workforce.
The Impact Of COVID-19
A survey conducted by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) found that the issue is a growing global phenomenon.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem, with HGV drivers falling ill and unable to work. Training as a truck driver during the pandemic was almost impossible, with 30,000 fewer UK HGV driving tests taking place.
The future prospects on increasing truck driver numbers look grim. More than a third of the 300,000 strong UK truck driver workforce is aged 55 or over. This figure means that over the next ten years, more than 100,000 truckers will retire. This is sure to lead to goods not being delivered on time, construction work missing deadlines, and food shortages.
Keeping truck drivers and attracting new individuals has been further hampered by changes to the IR35 tax legislation. A loophole in the law has been closed that allowed drivers to consider themselves as self-employed. This is effectively reducing their earnings capabilities.
While no one should dodge making a fair tax contribution to the nation, the cold facts remain that those who have lost out will be earning less. This will require them to work longer hours, which might mean leaving the profession for greener pastures elsewhere.
Calls For The Army To Help As The Impact Goes Global
In some sectors, the crisis point is so significant that there are calls to bring in the army to help. However, as the jobs are very different, retraining would undoubtedly be required.
A further proposal made to the UK government to tackle the crisis includes a temporary extension to the permitted number of driver hours. This proposal is not the only one with the RHA giving the government a twelve-point plan to help. Notable suggestions include introducing an apprenticeship for Class C drivers, priority driving tests for HGV drivers, an SME-focused driver training scheme, and a training loan scheme for independent HGV drivers.
Get in touch with Mac’s Trucks today for help with driver training or extending your fleet with new or used trucks.