Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Two Logistics Associations Join Forces to Demand an End to Drastic Road Haulage Driver Shortage

Apprenticeship Schemes Need to be Up to Standard to Attract Young Talent
Shipping News Feature

UK – A joint statement from the two leading organisations which represent the truck drivers on British roads responsible for holding together the seamless links of the country's freight supply chain, is a rare beast.

This week however the very real crisis which faces the UK in the form of the drastic shortage of skilled and employable HGV and LGV drivers has driven the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) to jointly lobby the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) to provide the apprenticeship standards that logistics businesses need to start training the next generation of drivers.

A recent meeting of the Trailblazer Apprenticeship group has agreed to continue the provision of a route for Cat C+E licence acquisition and to press ahead for two new apprenticeships to provide separate routes for Cat C and Cat C+E. Splitting the qualifications is considered vital as illustrated in our Friday news round-up a couple of weeks ago.

Now the two Associations are calling on IFATE to recognise the distinctly different occupations of urban and trunker driving and the specific skills required for each job. The Trailblazer group will now set about developing the standards necessary for qualifications in this area, a move welcomed by both David Wells, Chief Executive of FTA and Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of RHA.

Current industry estimates have identified an industry shortage of more than 59,000 HGV drivers nationwide, and with EU workers currently representing 13% of the overall UK logistics workforce, Mr Burnett and Mr Wells are adamant that changes to the way logistics firms can train new employees need to be made to the system now and who said in the joint statement:

“There is no more time to be wasted if suitable standards are to be developed and new entrants to the industry are to start their journeys to fulfilling careers in the freight and logistics sector. After three years of negotiations and discussions with IFATE and government, it is encouraging that a workable, practical solution for the development of two new Apprenticeship standards for logistics is now in sight and we are urging all employers involved to prioritise the creation of these standards ready for the summer.

“Logistics businesses have been paying into the apprenticeship levy for the past three years without suitable standards to draw down and use the funds to improve and expand their workforces. It is a positive step that the sector will work together to push forwards the standards necessary for new apprenticeships, and will give businesses concerned about future proofing their workforce reassurance that assistance is finally being made available.

”Our industry is at the heart of keeping the UK’s commerce and industry flowing, and the government owes it to our members to ensure they have access to the best workforce possible to keep vehicles moving.”

The spectre of a possible shortfall of 150,000 drivers by the end of this year was raised before MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Road Freight and Logistics last August. As stated above many of the problems are linked to possible restrictions on EU registered drivers continuing to either be able to, or want to, work in the UK after Brexit, plus the ageing work force of the current crop of British drivers, prompting APPG chair Sir Mike Penning to comment at the time:

“Damning statistics like this show it is simply outrageous that Government are not responding to the very fair asks of the industry to address this problem. We need to get hard-working and ambitious young people into these jobs and we need to utilise the talent that’s out there. We need to work harder on schemes to make the industry more attractive to young people and to people who already have the skills we need.”