The logistics industry is one of the largest industries in the UK, with the haulage industry alone employing over 1.5million people. It can’t operate without drivers, but there is a shortage of them. The UK is currently facing a serious shortage of Haulage drivers and this isn’t just a few years away but happening now. A haulage driver shortage expected to be so severe that it will affect the economy and the supply and demand of goods. This blog will look at the current issues, what’s really behind this shortage and what the future might hold.
Haulage drivers – they work for just about every company
The idea of a truck driver as a road warrior, a man with a truck as his office, has been a staple of popular culture since the invention of the automobile. The image of a truck driver is one of a man with a heart of gold. An honest, hard-working man just trying to make a living and provide for his family. On a lighter note, a driver with a sense of adventure and a penchant for the open road. A modern-day cowboy, if you will.
A haulage driver, also known as an LGV driver, lorry driver or HGV driver, transport goods from A to B. Not one-off products that you may receive from the internet, but rather mass production of a variety of productions from large supermarkets, clothing stores etc. Haulage drivers are often in high demand with most industries due to their capabilities of driving large vehicles locally, nationally and often internationally. Haulage drivers are often away from home often and spend a great deal of time on the road for their work.
It’s important to note that not just anyone can become a haulage driver. Testing takes time and patience and involves sending off a D4 medical form before passing a theory and practical driving exam (much like a normal driving test). The similarity however stops here as to become a qualified haulage driver you must hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence and ensure that you are clearly aware of the HGV license type you have obtained as this will permit you to drive vehicles of a certain weight.
Why is there such a shortage of haulage drivers in the UK
It is believed that a number of factors have contributed to the national shortage of haulage drivers over the last year. The pandemic and Brexit have had a considerable effect, combined with tax reforms and drive test waiting lists that have backed up. Overall, it is believed that there is currently a shortage of 100,000 haulage drivers in the UK, according to the Road Haulage Association, and this number is not set to change in any sort of positive way for some time.
A large number of haulage drivers in the UK were EU workers, filling a gap that appeared in the early 2000s after it became apparent that students leaving school did not want to pursue a drivers life. When Brexit came into force this year, many EU workers decided to go back to their native country leaving a hole in the drivers available. This combined with the covid pandemic and many more EU nationals returning home has now created a serious problem.
What is the impact of the haulage driver shortage?
Unfortunately, when something is in high demand, the price goes up and underhand tactics appear to get an edge on the competition. This has become clear from stories emerging of haulage drivers being poached for various companies whilst on the job and delivering their products!
Larger companies will be able to pay more for the services of a haulage driver, having the advantage of making attractive offers to bring more drivers in to cover their deficit, but this means that smaller companies who are unable to keep up with this growing driver cost will be priced out and likely to suffer more as a result.
James Wroath, a logistics outsourcer has advised the Financial Times that the impact on the shortage of haulage drivers is likely to worsen as we approach the often crazy Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales.
Refuse workers are also feeling the pressure as they are poached by larger companies when on their collection rounds. This could result in the wider public being severely impacted if refuse workers are offered more attractive salaries and packages to move across to Haulage services. We may find that whilst we can purchase the latest outfit from our overflowing store, our bins are left unemptied for a number of weeks.
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Energy Haulage – supporting our overrun drivers
As a family-run business, we understand the importance of having a strong and stable work life so you can support your family and enjoy that work/life balance that we all crave. As leading event suppliers, much of our work and haulage requirements are in the UK – often an attractive prospect to haulage drivers as they are generally closer to home than some of their driver friends.
The welfare and happiness of our drivers are of paramount importance to us, and that’s why we have a strong team of drivers ready to support when required. If you are looking for a haulage company that can provide the support you need, get in contact with Energy Haulage today and discuss your requirements.