Truck Driver Shortage
The Truck driver shortage in the UK has reached a critical level – there are roughly 45,000 lorry drivers required throughout the country, as estimated by the Freight Transport Association (FTA). Without these drivers, the UK logistics industry could quite literally grind to a halt. In 2013 the road freight industry generated £22.9bn for the UK economy.
There are three main issues that have lead to the shortage. The first is the delays in obtaining test booking from the DVSA and medical assessments from the DVLA. At a recent FTA Industry Summit, these were key topics, as well as at a meeting at HM Treasury in May. In George Osborne’s recent Budget statement, he has promised the government will address these issues, reviewing the speed with which truck driver medical tests and road tests take place and how to improve this.
The second issue that has led to the shortage is the cost of training, another factor which the government has promised to assist in. The cost of acquiring the necessary license for truck driving is £3000, a deterrent for any potential young drivers who simply cannot afford this. Unlike a university education, there is no student loan. The government as such have promised to look into funding to support vocational skills such as truck driving. The Certificate of Professional Competence sparked many drivers to leave, since the certificate requires 35 hours of training every five years, which is further cost to the job.
The solution to the shortage of truck drivers is found within the third issue. At present nearly half of all current truck drivers are aged over 50, and as such much of the industry are looking towards retirement. Only 1% of all drivers are under the age of 25. This isn’t helped by the fact that insurance companies demand two years of HGV experience for all under-25 employees. The industry needs to entice in the next generation of drivers. The average salary for a lorry driver is £30,000, a very respectable figure, but typically days can be spent away from family and friends with a fairly grueling solitary lifestyle. Truck crime is also high, with reports of theft and even drivers being attacked. Given the cost and the nature of the work, truck driving has to be something you want to do.
The truck driver shortage is an industry issue, but the government are also obligated to help. The British economy is dependent on trade; without the road freight industry, this would be very difficult. Who will deliver your Amazon delivery? Who will send the food to the supermarket? Who will deliver the beer barrels to the pubs? This is an industry that can’t afford to die. Truck drivers are needed right now.