Friday 16 April 2021

Driver shortage ‘likely to worsen’

The transport industry is failing to retain the relatively small number of young people that it recruits to truck-driving, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has admitted.

Addressing the FTA’s transport managers’ conference in Sparkford, Somerset, Sally Gilson (pictured), the organisation’s head of skills campaigning, said it was estimated that the industry was 35,000 drivers short at present, but this figure could rise to 52,000.

“The worrying thing is that this isn’t, as many might think, EU-national drivers leaving because of Brexit, but young people leaving the industry shortly after doing their training,” she asserted.

Pressed by Transport Operator as to the reason for this leakage of young talent, she said that while there was no hard data, the anecdotal evidence was that issues included long hours, low wages and poor conditions.

Post-Brexit, the situation was likely to worsen because 43,000 truck drivers currently working for British operators were citizens of other EU nations. This was some 13 per cent of the UK’s truck-driving workforce.

Equally worrying for logistics companies was the 26 per cent of warehouse workers who were from other EU nations.

She urged operators to take advantage of the apprenticeship scheme that they could offer to trainee truck drivers, pointing out that it was open to all ages and apprenticeships were no longer just for school leavers.

“The average age of people taking the LGV driving test is 35,” she said.

Operators should also approach job centres: if there had been local large-scale redundancies they might be able to fund driver training for the right candidates.

Career Transition Partnerships were a valuable source of ex-services personnel, who often left the forces with an LGV driving entitlement. They were excellent potential employees but would usually require extra training before operating in a commercial environment, she cautioned.

FTA was also working with schools in its Think Logistics campaign, which she urged operators to participate in.

“Logistics isn’t currently on the radar for pupils or careers staff at many schools,” she said.


  1. Really think the Government need to step in and introduce Logistics in schools. We as a company tried to go to schools to promote the industry. We had several meetings with North Lanarkshire Council and Glasgow Training Group to try and offer Modern Apprenticeships to year 5 and 6 students. Involving classroom based training, ont he industry, core skills, FLT Licence work experience at our depot and on successfull completiong of car test they would be funded to go through their HGV. The cost of this training is £1000 per candidate. With Council funding cut – there was no money available and we couldn’t take it any further. I have worked in this industry for 17 years, I have a true passion for the industry and I am heavily involved in new initiative She’s RHA to not only get young people into the industry but also more females too. We can’t do it without the governments help. I believe there is some funding available in England but nothing in Scotland. The cost of coming into the industry is too high for young people to fund themselves. With all the rules and money it costs to get into this industry what is there to intice young people! Logistics is what makes the world go round, without it the place would come to a standstill. The Government really need to take a look at it and help us. We need a pathway from school to logistics and we need the funding in order to do this.

    • GW says:

      training isn’t the issue. No one wants to do it because if the low pay and terrible hours and conditions.

      Pay the rate and you’ll get the drivers. I won’t work full time for anyone because I can’t live on the crappy wages offered and I don’t want to work 60 hours a week.

      You also deduct the first hour of overtime due to enforced breaks.

  2. Rhubarb says:

    Working hours & skills in relation to pay:
    New driver won’t stay for social reasons. Kids are today are taught that work to live… so who wants to have their working hours messed about because it fits the company model.
    Example: working a Tue to Sat shift you can start day one at 0130hrs.. which often means waking from midnight on… then the next day you start at 0400hrs, then 0530hrs with a short day, so the planners slap you back in for 0130hrs again.. finishing on a Sat means your often to tired to spend time with family/friends with a lot of community activities going on from Friday to Saturday. You miss out.
    There’s a massive disruption in sleeping and you’re constantly tired with bosses saying ‘well Tony does it!’…
    night driving is hard, a few like it, lots struggle… the industry wants more night movements as do the public, but people have to do it. I expect that with social media taking people’s time and the limited rest in ones life.. expect to see accidents by tiredness on the rise.. drivers are humans not robots..
    Pay for the hours is poor. Annually it seems great. Over 30K/yr in the right job.. but above applies. High pay = poor lifestyle. (Some will cope well, most do not..)
    Pay for skilled work like building suppliers deliveries are low. Operating any lorry of any size is a skilled job and should be seen as such… but performing deliveries to personal addresses by crane mounted lorry… that’s a skill that’s seriously underpaid with low hours. So who can afford to do a high pressure, high accidental risk job for just £22K a year and feed a family? Unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to understand how skilled that job is.
    Bosses are constantly cutting out of hours pay. Some don’t even pay for out of hours driving. Those that do limit the out of hours pay from 4-6 hours.
    I’ve driven for companies that pay driver a little extra to work 2100hrs-0600hrs and some 2200hrs to 0200hrs and some that don’t pay any night rate but expect the same work rate.
    These are all very MAJOR factors is to why drivers cannot be retained. Who wants the stress of making an error with timings and lose a weeks salary by DVSA for it. Who want to be told that you can get onsite within your driving period of 4.5hrs so a break is not scheduled, making that delivery and everyone after late.
    Who wants to make a delivery to an RDC to have wait hours on plastic chairs instead of grabbing vital sleep in the cab… with just a poor coffee machine and if you’re lucky, a snacks machine that costs a fortune to use.
    Everyone from RDC operators, haulage firms and the industry at hand need to understand that drivers and human beings and not robots… until then… the driver market will fall out…
    Last example: I worked for a company that (around busy times) will use any driver… one driver (happened to be Eastern European) was learning how to drive, on the job. Even after being trained by an ex Army instructor he could not understand how to reverse onto a bay in a massive yard. So the bosses let him lose, alone… he was an older driver that clearly hadn’t even passed a test… or had done so many years ago and never driven an articulated lorry since… then the bosses wonder why there are so many bridge strikes or lane shunts or manoeuvring accidents…
    Find a better way…. or all you’ll have to call on are these drivers…
    I’m nearly 40…. I’m still in the younger half of all big firms I’ve driven for.. often youngest 10%.

  3. derek powell says:

    you can earn more stacking shelves in aldi than most hgv jobs who wants to say start work at 3am so out of bed at 1.30 in to work then take the resposability for a 44 ton wagon with a load on then have to do a fifteen hour shift 3 times a week and 3 thirteen hour shifts so a grand total of 84 hours a week max .shift pattern out of every 5/6 days or nights out of seven so working most weekends plus living in a steel hut with nowhere to park if your tramping , nowhere to shower or eat and then have 24 or 48hours off then at it again week in week out , then you have to suffer these ignorant people at the depot your delivering to if you don’t smile and beg they make you wait , then you have vosa fining you for every infrigment they can , being threatend by your employer do it or leave and all for the great fee of £350 to £600 if your lucky , no thanks ill gladly put my hgv 1 with 37 years experience back in my drawer and continue to stack shelves

  4. Ben Karlow says:

    I can only repeat a comment I saw at least ten years ago, “there is no shortage of drivers, what there is a shortage of is people who know how to treat them”
    This applies to employers and distribution and receiving sites where we get treated like lepers.
    Instead of listing 101 reasons why no one wants the job, someone tell me why anyone WOULD want it?
    Come on all you managing directors, make me want to work for you!

  5. douglas mcbain says:

    There is not a shortage of drivers There is to many lorrys out there The problen is it is too compeditive so you cant get the correct rate for the job therefore you cant pay enough money to the driver Pay the right money and youl,ll get enough drivers

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