Why is there a lorry driver shortage?

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates that there is a shortfall of roughly 100,000 drivers. It estimates that roughly 30,000 Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driving exams were lost last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The RHA's Tom Cornwell predicts that the driver shortage will be "dire"; Since January 1, EU citizens have been part of a new immigration system in the United Kingdom that prioritises high-skilled jobs. HGV drivers are not on the list of skilled vocations that are eligible for a skilled work visa, hence they are not eligible. Thousands of HGV driver jobs have gone unfilled due to the pandemic and Brexit, according to the transport sector.

What contributed to it?

Eastern European drivers have dominated truck driving in the UK in recent years, but many of them have returned home during the pandemic and found it difficult to return. Changes in the tax treatment of drivers' salaries have also been criticised by the industry for damaging recruiting. What is the current challenge and what does it mean for the supply chain? As the economy recovers, several industries are having difficulty recruiting qualified employees, prompting some analysts to refer to the UK's "missing workers"; Driver shortages are exacerbated by staff shortages in the food industry, which include packing, production facilities and warehousing. The HGV driver shortage is threatening to add to the rise in inflation, as global raw material shortages hamper supply chains. Deliveries to supermarkets and other areas of the economy are jeopardised according to business and union representatives. Due to a shortage of lorry drivers, German manufacturer Haribo is having difficulty delivering its sweets to stores in the United Kingdom. It stated it was "experiencing challenges"; with supplies, like many other producers and merchants. Due to the loss of up to 100,000 lorry drivers because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, industry leaders have warned that the UK would face a summer of food shortages. Tesco, the UK's largest food retailer, has stated that driver shortages are resulting in 48 tonnes of food waste every week. Because there are not enough drivers to get items from suppliers before it spoils, several supermarkets are running low on products like milk and vegetables.

What solutions are being proposed?

The government's temporary extension of lorry drivers' working hours has sparked criticism from business, which claims the government is merely placing a "sticking plaster"; to the problem of driver shortages. HGV drivers can adjust their weekly rest patterns or increase their daily driving limitations from nine to ten hours on Monday.

Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are said to have considered various remedies, such as loosening restrictions on drivers' working hours and increasing capacity for HGV driving tests and training to aid in the recruitment of new local drivers. Drivers may also be included to the official shortage profession list by Defra, making it easier to recruit workers from overseas. The following proposals have been submitted:

  • Government must urgently put HGV drivers on the shortage occupation list.
  • Temporary visas to allow overseas drivers.
  • The army should be called in to distribute goods to supermarkets.
  • The Government and haulage sector must improve working conditions and pay if they want to keep drivers and recruit new ones.
  • The union Unite called for the logistics industry to boost driver pay rates to solve the crisis. 

What do you believe is the best solution?

Here at Trident our platform combines the very best in warehousing, fulfilment and logistics and with our marketplace partner we can provide a range of flexible, bespoke packages connecting you to over 450 global marketplaces through our fulfilment network.

Resources: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-57587253 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-57354636 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57753277 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57690505 https://www.ft.com/content/6655910e-8ef7-4a1f-9a67-745a8e1043da https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jun/28/lorry-driver-shortage-uk-government-and- retailers-in-emergency-talks-covid-brexit https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jun/25/uk-facing-summer-of-food-shortages-due-to- lack-of-lorry-drivers https://news.sky.com/story/hgv-driver-shortage-extended-hours-for-exhausted-hauliers-wont-fix- delivery-crisis-industry-body-warns-12350919 https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britain-could-face-food-shortages-due-lorry-driver-crisis-2021- 06-25/ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hgv-shortage-brexit-covid-haribo-b1877588.html https://inews.co.uk/news/hgv-driver-shortage-temporary-extension-driving-hours-grant-shapps- road-accidents-1092111