News

FTA Study Shows Drop in Driver Shortages

FTA Study Shows Drop in Driver Shortages

There was positive news for the UK's logistics sector last week as the Freight Transport Association (FTA) revealed that driver shortages have decreased. The figures came in a study which examined professional drivers, commissioned by the organisation entitled 'Driver Shortage: issues and trends'.

According to the research, there is still a large discrepancy between the total number of HGVs that are registered and the number of qualified drivers, but this has now fallen to 34,567. This is significant as it is a level which was seen in 2012 before the driver crisis hit.

So what is to be credited as being the catalyst in this encouraging development within UK logistics? According to the report, the larger number of truck drivers in employment can be put down, at least in part, to better conditions. It was found that salaries have gone up at a rate which is double that of inflation, with bonuses and overtime a big factor.

The FTA underlined the fact that there are challenges ahead, especially in the run-up to the festive period when drivers will be in hot demand. The relatively small amount (530) of truck drivers seen to be claiming benefits means that, in theory, qualified drivers will be coveted given the still small pool of qualified candidates.

While a reliance on European Union nationals from outside the UK was highlighted, that share of the overall driver pool was no more than 10 percent, the study revealed. That works out at 30,000 of a 300,000-strong driver pool.

Brexit was another issue that was raised by the research, and James Hookham, FTA Deputy Chief Executive, expressed his hope that the government would negotiate a deal to allow EU workers currently employed as truck drivers in the UK to stay in the country.

Mr Hookham said in a statement: "We urge the Government to ensure its Brexit negotiations afford special status to logistics and allow for this employment to continue so that the industry is not hit by another driver shortage crisis.

Speaking on behalf of drivers, he added that the sector needs "more help from Government with the cost of acquiring a vocational licence, which is often cited as a barrier to recruitment".

Among the other interesting findings unearthed by the study was that truck driving is still very much a young person's game. The average age of drivers that have just passed their HGV driving test is no more than 34 - and this compares with 48 as a proportion of the overall driver population.

It also appears women have the edge over male drivers when it comes to passing the test with flying colours - they are more likely to succeed than their male colleagues, according to the report.

Finally, the FTA confirmed the good news that the 'Driver Shortage: issues and trends' report will be published on a biannual basis, giving us a periodical update on the state of the industry and an idea of what we can expect to see over the coming months.