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UK Firms Scramble To Resolve HGV Driver Shortage

Haulage firms are advertising driver roles with salaries of up to £50,000 per year, in a desperate bid to attract more staff.

The Guardian reports that logistics firms are also trying to lure in new starters with a retention bonus of £5,000. Industry leaders have warned that the shortage could lead to price rises in the shops and empty shelves at Christmas.

Jo Pick, people director for operations at logistics firm Wincanton, told the publication that they currently had a shortfall of 600 drivers.

The firm have a fast-track scheme for current staff, as well as an apprentice scheme which is proving to be popular. They are encouraging people who wouldn’t have considered HGV driving before, such as women.

Pick said: “A lot of the movement in the industry recently has been just moving the same driver population around different companies, so we want to focus on trying to stop that merry-go-round and increase the driver workforce overall.” 

According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there has been a perfect storm of issues which have led to the current situation. Many drivers from Eastern Europe returned home after Brexit, and some drivers left the industry over Covid concerns. There is also a backlog of driver testing and training in the UK due to the lockdown restrictions. 

Being a trucker has always had something of an image problem too; it can be a tough job with long hours away from home, and can lead to a poor diet and limited opportunity to exercise. Many drivers currently working are in the older age groups, and are retiring at a faster rate than new recruits can be brought in.

The RHA has called for the government to relax immigration rules, so that truck drivers can be included on the Shortage Occupation List as a short term measure to ease the pressure on the haulage industry. 

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