The UK HGV industry has been grappling with a long-term shortage of drivers, with an estimated shortfall of around 100,000 drivers in January 2022. While the situation has improved slightly and the number currently stands at 60,000, more needs to be done to address this chronic issue.
Government and Industry Efforts
The industry has experienced this shortage for nearly a decade, and it has become a normalized situation. The government has taken various measures to tackle the acute HGV driver shortage and protect the supply chains. These measures include simplifying the testing process, recruiting more driving examiners, and providing funded HGV driver training places through HGV Skills Bootcamps.
The government’s efforts have been commendable and have addressed some of the most significant barriers to entry into the industry, such as the cost of training. Employers have also played a crucial role by improving working conditions and offering attractive starting salaries of over £40,000k to new drivers. However, training and upskilling are still vital factors in recruitment and retention.
The industry can leverage existing staff by providing upskilling opportunities that offer increased pay and career progression. The current training landscape is complex and confusing for trainees, employees, and employers. By restructuring and streamlining HGV driving careers, there can be more transparent pathways on how to get into the industry and how drivers can progress.
The government has recognized the importance of diversifying the HGV driver workforce and has taken several steps to attract more women to the profession. In October 2021, the government launched a £1.2 million campaign to encourage more women to consider a career in HGV driving. The campaign aimed to dispel the myths and stereotypes associated with the profession and to showcase the benefits of a career in HGV driving.
The campaign includes a series of videos featuring female HGV drivers sharing their experiences and challenges on the job, as well as advice and support for those considering a career in the industry. The government has also established a Women in Transport forum to help address barriers to entry and to promote gender diversity across the transport sector.
Government Skill Bootcamps
According to the government, the HGV Skills Bootcamps have already provided training to over 11,000 individuals, with many going on to secure employment as HGV drivers. The bootcamps have been particularly successful in addressing the shortage of drivers in certain regions of the UK, where demand for drivers is highest.
The impact of the HGV Skills Bootcamps is not just limited to addressing the current shortage of HGV drivers. By providing high-quality training and upskilling opportunities, the bootcamps are also helping to build a more skilled and resilient workforce for the future. This will be crucial in ensuring that the HGV industry is able to meet the demands of the future and to continue to drive economic growth in the UK.
Temporary Visa Programme
The UK government has introduced a temporary visa program to address the country’s shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers. The shortage has been an ongoing issue for the UK transport industry, with many factors contributing to the problem, such as Brexit, COVID-19, and changes in regulations.
The temporary visa program was introduced in September 2021 and will run until December 2022. The program allows up to 5000 HGV drivers from overseas to work in the UK for up to three months. To be eligible, drivers must have a job offer from a UK-based employer and a Certificate of Sponsorship.
The visa program has been welcomed by the industry, with many seeing it as a necessary short-term solution to the driver shortage. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has called for the program to be extended beyond December 2022 and for the government to address the long-term issues that are causing the driver shortage. Despite that the effects of this programme has been very limited, employing only a small number of drivers.