HGV mechanic shortfall: call for Home Office help

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Friday 8 December 2023

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has called for heavy vehicle technicians to be added to the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List, which it says would enable UK maintenance providers to help address current personnel shortfalls by easing access to the country for skilled overseas applicants.

“Firms across our industry tell us about some difficulties they have attracting, training and retaining staff,” said the RHA.

“We need to do everything we can to make the paths into our sector easier. Long term, we need to raise awareness and understanding among young people about the opportunities available in the industry.”

It has also called for improved support for apprenticeships, in the form of a skills levy that would replace the existing apprenticeship levy. This, says the association, would offer more flexible and relevant training options “to get people behind the wheel or under the bonnet”.

“But training takes time,” said the RHA.

“It takes three years to fully train a heavy vehicle mechanic. In the shorter term the government can act now on helping us slow down the worsening mechanics shortage which is hitting operators.

“We’re calling for heavy vehicle technicians to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List which would give firms access to overseas labour markets to bring these much-needed, skilled professionals into the UK to keep our trucks and coaches moving.”

The shortage of HGV technicians is proving to be an enduring problem for fleet maintenance providers.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times cited Logistics UK as warning that new vacancies for mechanics had become the most difficult in the sector to fill. It pointed to a survey conducted late last year of more than 200 members, which reportedly found that over half (54 per cent) faced severe problems in hiring sufficient fitters, technicians and mechanics. This was up from 35 per cent the previous year.

The FT also cited suggestions by logistics groups that increased investment in salaries and bonuses to tackle the driver shortfall had in some instances encouraged mechanics to apply for driving roles, thereby exacerbating a separate problem.