UK seeks new HGV drivers to ease supply-chain pressures

Published on
September 27, 2021
Trucks drive down a highway in the United Kingdom

With the United Kingdom’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) claiming a current shortage of more than 100,000 truck drivers, a new package of measures has been announced by the U.K. government to ease supply chain pressures in food haulage, which will enable up to 4,000 people to be trained to become heavy-goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

Up to GBP 10 million (USD 13.7 million, EUR 11.7 million) is to be invested by the U.K. Department for Education to create new skills bootcamps to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers. An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally.Meanwhile, the Department for Transport, along with logistics organizations, will initiate a communications and outreach effort to former HGV drivers to ask them to return to the industry.

Additionally, 5,000 non-British HGV drivers will be allowed to come to the United Kingdom for three months in the run-up to Christmas, to provide short-term relief for the haulage industry.

“This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the U.K., and this government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage,” U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. “We are acting now but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers. After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”

Food and Drink Federation Chief Executive Ian Wright said U.K. food and drink manufacturers have asked for help over the last few months to alleviate some of the pressure labor shortages that have been placed on the food supply chain.

“This is a start, but we need the government to continue to collaborate with industry and seek additional long-term solutions,” he said.

According to the RHA, the COVID-19 pandemic led to many foreign HGV drivers returning to their home countries. The pandemic also brought a large backlog in HGV driver tests, meaning than many thousands of potential new drivers have been unable to join the industry, it said.

The association estimates that around 2,000 drivers are leaving the industry every week, mainly due to retirement, with only 1,000 new recruits joining over the same period.

Photo courtesy of Jarek Kilian/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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