Official figures show that middle-aged people have suffered the greatest decline in HGV driver numbers over recent years.
According to ONS, HGV drivers in Britain peaked in 2017. The largest decline since then has occurred among the 46-55 year olds.
A shortage of HGV drivers has caused delivery issues for fuel, food and other products.
Covid as well as Brexit are also blamed for the shortage.
The ONS reports that there were 321,000 drivers of HGVs in the UK at the end of June 2017. That number dropped by 53,000 or 17% to 268,000 in June 2017, according to the ONS.
The report also revealed that although there were only 12,000 less EU citizens driving HGVs than before, 42,000 more UK-born drivers had been registered.
There were 34,000 drivers aged 46 to 55 in June 2021. That’s 29% less than the previous year.
A third of UK drivers were over the age 56 by 2020-21. Just under 20% are between 19 and 35.
- Why is the shortage of HGV drivers so severe?
- More UK delivery to foreign drivers
- Why is it so hard to find the right product?
Haulage firms say that they are looking to recruit younger workers.
These include better terms and conditions and better services for long-distance drivers and recognition that they are an important part of our economy.
Road Haulage Association, RHA stated that there was a shortage because of the retirements of many drivers.
The Brexit changes and the changes in off-payroll work rules (known as IR35) were also blamed.
Rod McKenzie is the RHA’s managing director for policy and public affairs. He said that problems got worse during lockdown because “many drivers furloughed from non-essential industries like retail decided they would move on to other jobs, and they have never returned”.
However, he said to BBC that many older drivers had been discouraged from returning to their industry due to having to complete extensive training including 35 hours vocational training.
Retired drivers are not happy with the recent government letter asking them to get back in haulage. Many see driver CPC, which is classroom-based training as a barrier.
RHA proposes reforms for Driver CPC in order to cut down on the time required for students to learn how to return to the workplace.
Paul Carter was unhappy to witness one of his drivers be verbally abusive while they were driving together. This is what made Certa Logistics the managing director.
His drivers are responsible for moving food products across Europe and the UK in support of a major supermarket chain as well as High Street coffee shops.
This is a difficult job that he said, noting the difficulty of accessing basic services and consideration from the public. He believes this has led to a decline in quality over the course of his 30-year-long career.
On social media, Carter stated that it was time for the United Kingdom to change how HGV drivers are treated.
“Whatever your income, nobody in their right mind will want to come into work being treated and spoken this way just to perform a day of work.
“I would not be a driver on a truck, but I have a business in logistics.”
Pay has been pushed up by the shortage in drivers, but Mr Carter believes the real issue lies with the drivers themselves.
He says that increasing pay means more people moving into big companies in the sector, not increasing the willingness to work.
Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) stated that driver shortages have been made worse by the coronavirus outbreak. He added however, “There are longer-term concerns surrounding attracting and maintaining drivers to this industry, such as long hours, low diversity, and low pay.”
ONS data showed the impact of coronavirus crises on testing. There were 16,022 passes for HGV tests in the past year, as opposed to an average 41,731 per year during the preceding five years.
On Monday, Mr Shapps approved legislation to simplify the HGV driving license regime in order to reduce the paperwork required to become a driver.
He stated that his department is committed to addressing the root causes of HGV driver shortages.
In an effort to alleviate the problem, the government recently granted temporary visas to EU-lorry drivers.
McKenzie said Tuesday that the government’s measures have yet to go into effect.
The shortage of truck drivers is causing delays and frustrating trips. He told the business committee that things aren’t improving at this point.
He said, “We believe it will be a year for us to recover from our current situation.”
According to an RHA survey, more than 100,000 drivers are not qualified in the UK.
Julia Kermode from Nantwich’s IWork says that if experienced drivers are not to leave the job, we must change the perception of the haulier sector.
She stated that “HGV drivers must contend with many restrictions about where and when they may stop. They also have to pay for the privilege to rest after a long day of work.
They also need to face the reality that many people do not want to be able to see drivers and lorries in their daily lives.”
She also said that in addition to that, the pay of self-employed drivers has been cut drastically by legislation on off-payroll taxes. It’s not surprising then that so many hauliers do not feel that it is worth it.
“The irony here is that our lives are dependent on HGV drivers. We need to recognize that and appreciate their efforts.”
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