Lorry driver shortage ‘shows signs of easing’

A shortage of tens of thousands of HGV drivers in the UK has impacted deliveries of fuel, groceries and other goods — but a new report says there is “cause for cautious optimism” after a challenging 12 months for the logistics sector.

Trade association Logistics UK said that significant steps have been taken to help address long-standing recruitment issues, with government and industry working together to increase capacity to test new drivers, provide new training schemes, and commit to improving facilities available to those working across the road network.

“The flexibility and resilience of our sector in coping with a smaller workforce, coupled with issues caused by Brexit and supply chain disruption caused by worldwide container shipping issues, have been incredible,” said Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, “and with higher wages now helping to plug the gaps in employment for companies which can afford them and an increase in HGV driver tests of 25.6% and three-fold increase in applications for vocational provisional licences, there is hope that the shortage of HGV drivers will ease.”

However, de Jong noted that although average driver pay surged 10% in the nine months to October 2021 in order to retain existing staff and attract new drivers, smaller fleet operators are still not back to full fleet capacity and their inability to compete for drivers by offering higher wages appears to be hindering their efforts to recruit new staff.

She added: “Government announcements to help address issues across our sector, including increasing driver testing throughput, funding Skills Bootcamps to train HGV drivers and a commitment to improved overnight parking provision, have been at pace. There needs to be continued focus from government to ensure they are delivered, so business and industry can take full advantage and continue to raise awareness of logistics and the opportunities it offers.”