The UK is experiencing a lorry driver shortage that spans back several years, threatening to throw the supply chain industry off course.
As Britain emerged from the recent recession, the number of new trained drivers slumped by 25%, according to the Freight Transport Association. So why are fewer people choosing to drive for a living?
The barriers to entry include difficulty in obtaining a class 1 licence and a poor industry image. Young people just aren’t considering driving as a career option, perhaps because it isn’t considered as ambitious as other lines of work.
The truth is, commercial driving offers a working lifestyle that favours many workers. The opportunity for overtime can be far greater than other manual professions, and it is normal for a lorry driver to maximise their earning potential by choosing to extend their working week.
Another plus side is for people who prefer their own space and their own company. Life on the road could seem lonely to some, but to others it represents peace and quiet away from the hassles of a normal workplace.
One of the concerns surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union has been the risk to the employment pool in the supply chain industry.
Go to any warehouse or freight hub and you’ll see lots of workers from Eastern Europe. In theory, when Britain has left the EU, the government will be able to enlist skilled and unskilled workers to satisfy the labour shortage. This could include (but would not be restricted to) drivers from Poland, nurses from India and basically anyone willing to train to use equipment such as a fork lift truck.
Another reason for the professional driver shortage is the introduction of the Certificate of Professional Competence, which came into effect in 2009. This has made it more difficult to drive vehicles of more than 9 seats or heavier than 3.5 tonnes. It also may have been a significant factor in the number of experienced drivers leaving the profession.
The net result of this situation is that it is more difficult for logistics companies to recruit drivers, simply because there just isn’t the wealth of personnel out there. The good news for anyone thinking of becoming an HGV driver is that there is plenty of demand for your skills!