The government needs to urgently tackle the driver shortage by focusing on HGV driver training, apprenticeships and HGV driver tests, says Logistics UK.
More needs to be done, says the trade association to ensure there is enough financial support for HGV driver training, reforms are made to the apprenticeship levy and HGV driver tests are prioritised after so many have been cancelled due to Covid restrictions.
This call comes following the publication of Logistics UK’s Skills and Employment Report 2020 which revealed the extent of the driver shortage problem in the UK. According to the report, there were 20,500 fewer HGV drivers between April and June this year compared to the same period in 2019. That signifies a drop of 6.7%.
The report highlights the drop in numbers in logistics apprenticeships. Less than half the original target of 30,000 transport apprenticeships (set by the government five years ago) have started since 2015. That’s despite the transportation and storage sector having paid £155 million into the apprenticeship levy in 2018/19.
As the report states: “Figures indicate there were 12,721 new logistics apprenticeship starts in 2018/19 in England. Year-on-year, the overall number of logistics apprenticeship starts fell by 15%, while data for Wales show the number of logistics apprenticeship starts fell by 5.1% in the same period.”
The report’s findings also highlight the impact Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have had on the HGV driver shortage.
With this in mind, Logistics UK is calling on the government to deliver funding to help with the cost of driver qualifications (via grants or interest-free loans) and carry out an overhaul of the Apprenticeship Levy so that businesses can unlock funding.
They are also urging the government to make improvements to HGV driver facilities as a way to help make the career a more attractive option for potential recruits. Finally, they say the time has come to start HGV driving tests again (which have been halted due to the pandemic).