The RHA has mounted a five-point campaign to address the driver shortage, starting with government funding for firms to train new entrants, ensuring an excellent driver testing service, promoting the industry, driving up standards and improving conditions for drivers.
The UK economy faces a worsening shortage of licensed and qualified truck drivers, which limits the transport sector’s ability to deliver high quality services. We also have an increasingly heavy reliance on drivers from abroad. These combining factors are weakening what is a vital service industry, reducing government tax receipts and undermining economic competitiveness and growth.
The RHA has set out why it is both necessary and appropriate for government to make urgently available, a straightforward, quality-based system of grants for companies towards the cost of getting drivers licensed and qualified to drive. This position has gained support from companies and representative bodies across the industry.
To address this issue effectively, the RHA believes that funding of up to £3,000 per person should be made available and paid directly to the thousands of hauliers who are currently desperate for drivers. There have been suggestions that a loan system may be an option but the RHA has told the government, this would be a poor second best option.
The UK has under-invested in HGV driving skills and as such, has resulted in a heavy reliance on drivers from Eastern Europe. If not urgently addressed, within 12 months the 45,000 driver shortfall we are currently experiencing will increase to 60,000.
The RHA has framed its request to government within a pro-active programme in which the industry is being urged to review how it perceives itself and how it projects itself to customers and potential employees. We are providing advice packages for members and we have a national project with Jobcentre Plus aimed at providing two-week work placements to selected candidates and getting people into jobs.
We are harnessing best practice in the recruitment and management of young drivers – mindful that some members are successfully employing HGV young drivers aged 18 and upwards.