Logistics industry faces driver shortage

October 27, 2014 by Kirsty Adams
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In light of the recent passing of the deadline for Driver CPC qualification, Dr Ross Moloney, CEO of Skills for Logistics, looks at ways to address the shortage of HGV drivers.

At the end of August, with just a fortnight to go before the Driver CPC deadline of 10th September, I was invited on to Stuart Linnell’s Breakfast show on BBC Radio Northampton to discuss logistics and the driver shortage. The show received a huge amount of interest, but then logistics in the Northampton area employs some 45,000 people and is warning of a crisis due to the shortage of LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) drivers.

Before going on the show we did some number crunching at SfL and found that in Northamptonshire at that time, for every one candidate qualified to be a lorry driver there are nine vacancies. This is a pinch point reached even before the economy really gets going.

While the driver shortage is felt more acutely in a major logistics hub area like Northampton, logistics operators across the whole of country are struggling to recruit drivers. As the UK looks to grow, the economy we will need more – it is estimated that the UK needs an extra 150,000 drivers by 2020.

Supply chain journey

Unlike SHD Logistics readers, the general public needs to be reminded that most of what you can see has been delivered by a lorry at some part of its supply chain journey. This is clearly a fundamental challenge facing the country.

There are essentially five issues that have brought us to this pinch point, the first being economic growth – both domestic and international – which creates more demand for drivers to move what we are producing and hope to consume.

Then comes the sector’s age issues – an average age of 53 is much higher than other sectors, while 13% of drivers are over 60 and therefore likely to retire in the next five years. Only 2% are under 25.

The third issue is the perception of logistics, which is not traditionally seen as a ‘career of choice’.
Next comes the changing needs around training given the phenomenal technology in modern logistics establishments.

Finally, directives from the EU that demand that our drivers have mandatory Certificate for Professional Competence.

Next steps?

We need more lorry drivers but what are we going to do about it? We are working to overcome barriers to entry – for example, licence acquisition is expensive but we are working with government to find ways to support people. There are local initiatives, but we are trying to get to a national strategy to support people who want to be lorry drivers. Meanwhile, employers and individuals want greater visibility of the standard of training in the sector, which Skills for Logistics is addressing with the launch of its Standard of Excellence Driver CPC this month.

The quality of training is a frequently expressed concern of employers in the sector. Skills for Logistics responded to these concerns by developing criteria, in conjunction with leading logistics employers, by which we can endorse and recognise excellent logistics training providers. It will be an invaluable method for employers and individuals to recognise excellent and industry approved training.

We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to this initiative and the constructive engagement from employers and training providers. There is a clear gap in the market for the endorsed excellence provision, which we believe will provide a valuable contribution to the logistics sector – and I want it to be an attractive option.

This is all about raising skills levels to ensure the future success of the industry. Our focus is to ‘attract’ talented new people and challenge the misconception that the sector lacks great career opportunities. It’s about helping ‘develop’ people to have the best possible logistics careers and supporting collaboration to create solutions such as the Standard of Excellence.


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