In an open letter to the UK logistics sector, the Government has announced an urgent initiative to resolve the mounting shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.
Following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of EU nationals – who make up a significant proportion of workers in the UK logistics industry – are having to return to home countries.
The letter outlined measures to boost Heavy Good Vehicle (HGV) driver recruitment and retention rates in the logistics industry.
Driving test changes
By altering provisional license entitlement and simplified and single driving tests, the Department of Transport aims to increase the amount of driving tests by 500 a week, and in doing so, streamline the process significantly.
Businesses are likely to also receive financial support regarding training, payment incentives and specialised apprenticeships to boost the supply of drivers to the industry.
In addition, the Department for Work and Pensions will be supporting prospective jobseekers to become HGV drivers by collaborating with the haulage sector on content for JobHelp, the Government’s virtual platform to advise and guide people looking for work.
The government is looking to improve working conditions to improve retention and encourage former lorry drivers back into the sector. By working with Highways England and other businesses, increased day and overnight facilities are to be created. These measures are in addition to a recent relaxation of drivers’ hours and supermarket delivery times. This was, however, met with criticism, as longer hours would likely result in tired drivers, increasing the risk of road accidents.
The chief executive to the RHA, in response, said: “This is a step in the right direction long-term, but it doesn’t address the critical short-term issues we’re facing.
“The problem is immediate, and we need to have access to drivers from overseas on short-term visas.”