There has been a huge amount of coverage recently in the national media about the shortage of drivers within the haulage industry and the knock-on effects for the supply chain. Today, and in the future, this is becoming an increasingly growing concern.
With Christmas just around the corner there is a danger out there that not all deliveries will be fulfilled in time.
The shipping and haulage industries have a huge impact on the economy and it’s imperative we keep customers happy by meeting delivery times to ensure products are on the shelves for the end consumer.
Within the John Good Group we run around 30 of our own trucks, supplemented by a fleet of owner drivers and sub-contract hauliers, making over 100 container deliveries each day. But recruiting drivers is increasingly tough.
There’s very much a driver shortage and an ageing workforce.
The only way of addressing it is to simply get younger people into the industry and get them interested in it.
It’s understandable to a degree. Young people work to live, they often don’t want unsociable hours and to be away from home for two or three nights a week.
New training is being introduced for hauliers which has driven many older ones across the country to exit the industry early rather than undergo the training. Coupled with an increasing number of migrants returning to their home countries, it means driver numbers are starting to dwindle.
People are asking themselves whether they need to do the new training if they are close to retirement.
We need to make the industry more attractive.
There is the danger that the concept of driving as a profession has almost disappeared and has become simply a job.
The difficulty from a business perspective is that margins remain squeezed in the supply chain and that filters down to the haulage industry.
In an ideal world, increased margins would enable us to pass this onto our drivers who do an exceptional job for us. But the reality is, unless we get help from the government and our industry bodies, we remain stuck in a cycle that is difficult to eradicate.
If the UK haulage sector is to stand any chance of remaining competitive, the government must make a commitment to fund vocational licences for new drivers. The real cost of an LGV licence at £4-5k (RHA figures) per individual is, of course, a major barrier to enter the industry.
If training grants do not become available then the road haulage industry will start to die.
It’s hard to understand why a government would let an industry struggle that is judged as a barometer of the economy.
Without drivers the economy would come to a standstill (FACT) yet we are still waiting for training grants almost a year after we predicted this would happen after the CPC for drivers became a requirement.
Our industry body (RHA) is finally starting to be listened to, so let’s wait for positive actions to be taken.