Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Freight Transport Group Again Lobbies for Assistance with Road Haulage Driver Apprenticeships

Chronic Shortage of Skills in Logistics Must be Addressed Immediately
Shipping News Feature
UK – The chronic shortage of HGV drivers which is not only currently blighting the country’s road haulage industry, but threatening to get steadily worse over time as more elderly workers retire, has been the subject of a Transport Select Committee inquiry which closed for submissions this week into skills and workforce planning in the sector. One body eager to post a response was the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which has been focusing on the subject for some time.

With the deadline for representations closing earlier this week the Committee is now assessing the Government’s response to haulage industry concerns about the lack of skilled drivers in the sector, and the FTA estimates there is a shortfall of around 60,000 drivers across the UK. The FTA says the Government should ensure that apprenticeships are in place by 2017 to encourage younger people into the industry. The Association also wants to see the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan extended to enable financial support to fund licence acquisition.

In a survey of FTA members in July this year, more than 80% of companies reported delays in being able to hire permanent LGV drivers. Almost a third indicated they suffered lengthy delays or were unable to fill vacancies and two-thirds reported problems hiring temporary drivers through agencies. The FTA also made the point that more driver facilities need to be provided across the UK road network. Local authorities need to ensure that relevant business and industrial developments include provision for LGV parking and rest facilities.

The FTA survey also shows that 62% of LGV drivers are aged 45 or over, vastly different to the economy-wide demographics, where the population aged 45 years or older in employment is only around 35%, with just 1% of employed drivers currently under 25. Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of National and Regional Policy, said:

“The Government needs to take urgent action to help the logistics industry tackle the driver shortage and attract younger people to the industry. Effective logistics are vital to the UK economy and it is vital that these issues are addressed before we reach crisis point.”

The FTA’s submission also argues against any unnecessary increase in the regulatory burden on drivers and operators. The Association says industry and individuals need to be free, within parameters, to identify their own training needs and is also opposed to any mandating of elements of the Driver CPC syllabus, flexibility being key to making the training requirement as useful as possible.

The FTA is also working on another side of the industry and last month embarked on its first engineer apprenticeships with supply chain specialist Gist to offer would-be engineers the opportunities and experience to start their logistics associated careers without going to university.