Truck driver shortage in the UK
A recent report, Barriers to Youth Employment in the Freight Transport Sector, was released by a group working on behalf of the British government. This report resulted in a considerable amount of discussion in the British media, far more than the trucking industry normally gets. The results of this report were absolutely stunning.
The report highlighted a truck driver shortage. Not necessarily at the moment, but going into the future. It found that just 2% of the people operating HGVs in the UK were under the age of 25. Almost 60% of those operating HGV were over the age of 45, with a fairly good proportion of that older generation coming up to retirement. The study actually found that there were more managing directors under the age of 25 and working in the haulage industry than there were drivers. The problem the UK faces at the moment is the fact that more people are leaving the industry than entering it. If this trend keeps up, and it is likely that it will do so, the British trucking industry will die a rather slow death.
At the moment, the British government are looking to revitalise the British economy. They are aiming to do this by boosting manufacturing and exports. At the moment, they seem to be having a great deal of success with this too. However, if the truck driver shortage in the UK continues, and it is likely to do so, then it does not matter how well the manufacturing industry is performing, there will just not be enough drivers to haul the goods from place to place, particularly going into the future.
The team behind the report claim that the crisis can be fixed. However, it needs to be dealt with on an educational level. The problem is that many young people in the UK are not being informed that working in haulage is an option. The government really seems to be forcing people into vocational careers, most of which do not involve anything related to the trucking industry. Most of those who are actually entering the trucking industry are not discovering it for the first time. They are, instead, joining the trade simply because their family is already working within the industry.
That being said, the government does realise that there is a truck driver shortage in the UK. They know that if this continues, it will bring economic recovery to a halt. As a result, they are looking for ways in which the crisis can be solved. Nowadays, compulsory education lasts until you are 18. The government believes that this will result in more people entering vocational education. In addition to this, the minimum age for obtaining a HGV licence has been brought down to just 18. This means that, theoretically, people will be able to obtain their HGV licence as soon as they leave school. The result of this is that more people are likely to discover haulage as a profession. In the past, most people realised that they would not be able to enter the industry all that quickly and instead opted for a different profession. At least a few people in the future may discover the merits of driving a HGV before it is too late.
Whether this will help to solve the truck driver crisis is anybody’s guess. Insurance costs for young drivers are still too far high which makes it less-likely that a logistics firm will hire somebody new to the industry. However, something really does have to be done. About 20% of the current drivers in the UK will hit retirement age over the next ten years. More will have their licences revoked or will head into over industries. However, the amount of new people obtaining a licence is falling at an astronomical rate (roughly 45% year on year). Something really does have to be done soon or the haulage industry in the UK will grind to a halt.