Now more than ever, British businesses have come to rely on an efficient supply chain. The pandemic may have put a dent in consumer spending, but certain goods are still a necessity.
And what forms the backbone of an efficient supply chain? Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers (HGV) play a pivotal role in the economy and the functioning of society.
Yet, Britain’s HGV Driver numbers are in decline.
The Crux of the Matter
An aging workforce, low unemployment, and problems attracting skilled younger people to the Heavy-Duty Goods transport (HGV) sector are just some of the factors attributed to the decline in HGV drivers.
The findings published by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), now known as Logistics UK, last year estimates the number of HGV drivers was down by 5% year on year from 2017.
This translates to 59 000 shortages as 64% of storage and transport businesses face severe skills shortages. But it’s not just Britain facing a decline in numbers. The report indicates a 21% HGV driver shortage across Europe.
The Pressure is On
With seasonal demand set to increase over the next two months, fleet managers look set to have their work cut out for them creating a reliable commercial fleet. Time constraints, seasonal pressure, backlogs, and shortage of skilled HGV drivers all add to the pressure.
“A breakdown should be the least of their worries,” says a representative from Fleetcover – the fleet insurance specialists. “We get the tight margins and high turnover, in short, all the dynamics involved in running a logistics business.”
Where to From Here?
Perhaps more tellingly is the age demographics within the HGV industry, where some 60% of drivers are aged 44 and older, with only 19% under the age of 35. Exacerbating the situation is the lack of young people considering HGV driving as a career option to fill the gap by those leaving the industry.
Managing director at Paragon Software Systems, William Salter, asked logistic professionals how best to plug the HGV industry’s skill gaps. And this is what they came up with.
● Address the poor public image of the sector. The industry needs to present itself as innovative and technology-driven to make it more appealing to the younger generation.
● Make logistics financially rewarding. Wages in the logistics industry are simply not good enough to attract younger applicants.
● Create an appealing career path. A framework for the industry needs to be created, which recognises industry standards and qualifications.
● Improve working conditions. Long hours, inflexibility, loneliness, and low pay were all key factors in the decline of ‘new blood’ into the HGV sector. These issues, along with a lack of quality driver facilities, need to be addressed to make the role more appealing to a younger audience. More alarmingly is the stress and risk factors associated with the job.
● Engagement with the education sector. Engage with Educational facilities to increase the visibility of the range of jobs on offer.
Hope on the Horizon
So, what is the solution? According to industry insiders, increased wages and an overhaul of the HGV industry’s image would go a long way to solving the problem.