Driver shortage – expand the Youth Mobility Scheme
We have today written to Home Secretary Priti Patel MP about the driver shortage, in particular the now clearly visible problems resulting from the opening of the economy and the movement towards the seasonal peak.
One of the factors causing the shortage is the loss of the EU drivers that returned home during the pandemic. Given the changes to immigration rules since January 2021, new EU HGV drivers are no longer able to work in the UK as they are excluded from the Shortage Occupation List. I
We have campaigned for changes to this list and firmly believe that skilled qualified lorry drivers should be included.
It is important that there is a long-term solution to this issue but, in the short to medium-term, we are asking that Government temporarily expand the Youth Mobility Scheme to permit young people (under 30) from the EU and EEA to work in the UK. Currently the scheme is closed to EU and EEA citizens.
The scheme was set up to give young people in selected countries the opportunity to experience life in the UK, enabling them to work and travel for up to two years. The scheme is reciprocal as it allows young people from the UK to work and travel within 8 other countries included in the current agreement.
We believe that opening the scheme to EU and EEA citizens (who have compatible qualifications in many areas such as professional lorry driving) will provide a useful and immediate contribution to mitigating the current labour shortage. It will provide businesses with a pool of qualified temporary labour that we are currently seeking. In addition, it would provide immediately usable access to young people, many with professional qualifications, on a temporary basis until the skills shortage gap can be rectified by stepping up the training of UK workers. It is possible that between 2,000 and 4,000 qualified drivers could be attracted via this route.
Read the letter here.