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Monday, December 6, 2021

Biggest fall in HGV drivers among the middle-aged


The biggest fall among HGV drivers in recent years has been among middle-aged workers, according to official figures.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of HGV drivers in the UK peaked in 2017, with the greatest drop since occurring among those aged 46 to 55.

The shortage of HGV drivers has resulted in widespread delivery issues for food, fuel, and other items.

Both Covid and Brexit have been cited as contributing factors to the shortage.

According to the ONS, 321,000 people worked as HGV drivers in the UK in June 2017. However, by June 2021, that figure had dropped by 53,000, or 17%, to 268,000.

It also revealed that, while 12,000 fewer EU nationals were driving HGVs, the number of UK nationals had decreased by 42,000.

There will be 34,000, or 29 percent, fewer drivers in the 46-55 age group by June 2021.

According to the figures, nearly a third of all drivers in the UK were aged 56 or over in 2020-21, with just under 20% aged 19 to 35.

Transportation companies say they want more done to attract younger workers.

Better terms and conditions, better facilities for long-distance drivers, and recognition that they are an important part of the economy are all part of this.

According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the current shortage is primarily due to the number of drivers retiring.

They also blamed Brexit and changes to IR35, or off-payroll working rules.

According to Rod McKenzie, RHA’s managing director of policy and public affairs, problems worsened during the lockdown because “many drivers who were furloughed in non-essential sectors like retail decided to move into other jobs and have not returned.”

However, he told the BBC that experienced older drivers have been discouraged from returning to the industry due to the requirement to complete extensive extra training, including 35 hours of vocational training.

“The government’s recent letter asking drivers to return to haulage has not been well received by many retired drivers who see classroom-based training (known as Driver CPC) as a barrier to returning,” he said.

The RHA has proposed changes to Driver CPC in order to shorten the classroom training component of returning to the industry.

‘I wouldn’t be a lorry driver and I own a logistics business’

The last straw for Paul Carter, managing director of Certa Logistics, was witnessing one of his drivers being verbally abused while they were on the road together.

His drivers transport food products throughout the UK and Europe for a major supermarket and a chain of high-end coffee shops.

It’s a job, he says, that’s made difficult by a lack of basic amenities and public consideration, both of which he believes have deteriorated over his 30-year career.

Mr Carter took to social media to say that the country needs to change the way it treats and views HGV drivers.

“Regardless of how much money you make, who in their right mind would want to come to work and be treated and spoken to like this just to do their job?”

“I wouldn’t be a truck driver, and I own a logistics company.”

While a driver shortage has increased pay, Mr Carter believes the issue is more fundamental, referring back to the working conditions of drivers.

Increasing pay, he claims, simply moves more people around the sector into the big players, rather than increasing the number of people willing to do the work.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the driver shortage, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, but he added: “There are longer-term issues surrounding attracting and retaining drivers to the industry, such as anti-social hours, poor diversity, relatively low pay, and poor driver facilities.”

The ONS data revealed that there were only 16,022 HGV test passes in the last year, compared to an average of 41,731 over the previous five-year period, demonstrating the impact of the coronavirus crisis on testing.

Mr Shapps confirmed legislation to streamline the HGV driving licence regime on Monday in order to reduce the red tape required to qualify as a driver.

“It is a top priority for my department to address the causes and consequences of the HGV driver shortage,” he said.

In an effort to address the shortage, the government has recently allowed temporary visas for EU lorry drivers.

However, Mr McKenzie told MPs on Tuesday that the government’s measures have yet to take effect.

“There is a widespread shortage of lorry drivers, which is causing delays and frustrating trips.” “At this point, things do not appear to be improving,” he told the Business Select Committee.

“We believe it will take a year to recover from where we are,” he said.

According to a RHA survey of its members, the UK now has a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers.

Julia Kermode says we need to appreciate HGV drivers more

If we want to keep experienced drivers in the industry, we need to change our perception of the haulier industry, says Julia Kermode of Nantwich-based IWork, which represents independent workers.

“HGV drivers are forced to contend with many restrictions on where and when they can stop, and they must pay for the privilege of resting after a long day’s work, often in places with poor facilities,” she said.

“They also have to contend with the fact that many people do not want to see lorries or lorry drivers in their daily lives.”

She went on to say that, on top of that, pay has been squeezed and self-employed drivers’ income has been severely reduced by off-payroll tax legislation, so it’s no surprise that many hauliers believe it’s simply not worth it any longer.

“The irony is that we rely entirely on HGV drivers in our daily lives, and it’s about time we all realised that and thanked them for what they do.”

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