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Concern grows over a shortage of skilled HGV drivers

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The Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) recently published quarterly Transport Activity Survey (QTAS) stating that the issue of driver shortages remains the primary concern.

According to FTA, there is currently a national driver shortfall of around 35,000, and the average age of workers in the T&L sector is rising steadily as companies struggle to attract younger employees. The final outcome of the Brexit negotiations could further impact these estimates.

If Britain’s businesses are to take full advantage of new international trading opportunities in the coming years, they will depend heavily on the support of the UK’s transport and logistics (T&L) sector.

The survey, which asked the opinions of 6,000 freight and logistics businesses in the FTA’s membership, showed that almost a third of respondents were experiencing long delays in recruiting HGV drivers. Given the sector’s reliance on skilled HGV drivers from abroad and the ongoing uncertainty over workers’ status as the Brexit negotiations unfold, members are keen for clarification on what the situation will be once the UK exits the EU.

At a time when British businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on an efficient supply chain, the lack of qualified drivers available to work could soon become cause for concern, says Christopher Snelling, Head of National and Regional Policy at FTA. And with just over 57% of respondents to QTAS also anticipating a shortage of HGV drivers moving into the second half of 2017, it is clear that the industry needs a recruitment boost to overcome the potential issues which this could cause in the long term to Britain’s ongoing profitability.

FTA represents all modes of the UK’s freight and logistics sector on behalf of its 16,000 members. The UK remains a leader in logistics at a global level, ranked in the top ten countries in terms of logistics performance, and the sector contributes 11% of the UK’s non-financial business economy. In 2016, 2.54 million people were employed in logistics in the UK, approximately 8% of the UK’s workforce. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles (half the UK fleet), consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and 70 per cent of sea and air freight.

John Simkins, Head of Transport and Logistics, Santander UK, said, “A shortage of skilled drivers has been a persistent challenge in the sector over recent years, and the results of this survey indicate that this is still an ongoing problem. However, it is encouraging to see that businesses from across the country are expecting strong growth in domestic activity in the coming months. Despite some T&L businesses putting their international expansion plans currently on hold, the T&L sector will continue to play a crucial role in the UK economy.”

To read the full report please go to http://www.fta.co.uk/membership/member_information_services/transport_activity_survey.html and fill in a short form.

Source: UK Haulier / FTA.co.uk

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