Deliver - Driver shortage


23 July 2019

According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the logistics industry delivers a staggering 165 million tea bags every day. So as a nation of unapologetic tea drinkers how many of us have really considered how the reported driver shortage will impact our lives beyond our afternoon cup of Earl Grey? 

Various industry bodies have reported a significant drop in talent in recent years. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation for example report that 98% of transport agencies are currently experiencing a shortage of drivers. So what has caused this drastic downturn in logistics labour? The current political climate might have us reaching for Brexit as the primary influencer in this instance, however, key industry trade associations such as the FTA and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) might suggest that we take a more inward-looking view.

Only 2% of employed drivers are under the age of 25, so a retiring workforce is one challenge that the industry faces. Clearly, attracting new drivers is something that the industry needs to focus on and this requirement has not gone unnoticed. The FTA is currently campaigning for reforms to the failing Apprenticeship Levy with demands to make it a Training Levy, arguably a crucial step in convincing young people that there is longevity in a logistics career.

Furthermore, the introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence has been a considerable setback from the standpoint of not only enticing new drivers but also retaining existing talent. The steep £3,000 training bill faced by new drivers is a further hurdle accompanying the certification fee.

Whilst Brexit can’t carry all of the blame for the prophylactic effect on young-driver enthusiasm, the statistics do make for sombre reading. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit will mean that physical checks have to be carried out on certain food items leading to projected bottle necking. Imperial College London estimate that the congestion from Brexit will lead to tail backs of up to 29 miles.

These figures make for, not only bleak reading but also excellent tabloid fodder. Never has it been more crucial that the industry needs to educate, inform and inspire if it is to withstand the negative impact of the press, the ageing workforce and the climbing entry costs for new drivers.

Our hope is that the All-Parliamentary Group on Freight and Logistics will support the industry’s efforts to attract new talent but our advice for now is that there’s no requirement to start stock piling the tea bags just yet.

The content of this article is from the summer 2019 edition of Deliver and is for general information only. For further information please contact Philippa Dyer or a member of Birketts' Regulatory and Corporate Defence team. Law covered as at July 2019.