Thursday, January 27, 2022

Welsh Committee Issues Recommendations to Ease the HGV Driver Shortage

Road Haulage and Logistics Interests Get Their Say
Shipping News Feature

WALES – With the HGV driver shortage continuing to afflict the whole of the UK, the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee of the Welsh Senedd has published this week its recommendations, addressed to the Welsh Government, to overcome that nation’s particular problems. The recommendations come after consultations with such as Logistics UK, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and the Road Haulage Association and others.

Full details of the report can been downloaded HERE and includes some less than delicate language from drivers speaking of their time in the industry. The report reviews the sources of the current problems and makes eight categories of recommendations in a bid to make HGV driving more attractive and accessible as a career.

Firstly there are apprenticeships, and the Senedd states the Welsh Government should work with industry as a matter of urgency to develop HGV drivers apprenticeship programmes and support the industry to increase the number of training providers to ensure sufficient provision is available as demand increases.

The process of continual professional development via the standard CPC driver training each lustrum needs to be looked at to ensure the curriculum suits the needs of the profession. This needs to be put before the UK government now restrictions imposed by the EU are somewhat irrelevant. Let us hope any changes though are agreed with European Authorities, or alterations to current competency requirements could preclude UK drivers working in Europe.

Discussion on rest stops and overnight parking brought a deluge of criticism from drivers during the consultation. The next recommendations suggest the Welsh Government carries out an audit of facilities and creates an inventory of what’s available before working with ‘partners’ to improve the situation, and then with hauliers, local authorities, drivers representatives and rest stop operators to introduce a voluntary standards system which indicates to drivers the comfort level and security of rest stops and consider how to encourage their uptake.

Planning policy needs updating so that planning permissions granted to warehouse facilities and other developments expecting regular deliveries or collections (e.g. industrial estates and retail parks) are required to provide high quality driver facilities. It should also consider whether building regulations can be used to drive up standards in new facilities.

The committee were obviously thrown a little by conflicting reports regarding hours of working. Unsurprisingly the drivers and unions consulted complained whilst the professional associations pointed to the mandated hours which are sacrosanct. It is generally accepted that the situation where drivers may be ‘beasted’ into working beyond the legal parameters are rapidly reducing as drivers can usually find work elsewhere currently due to the labour shortages.

Llwybr Newydd: the Wales Transport Strategy 2021 states that the Welsh Government will work with the UK government and others to form a workable logistics and freight plan for the country. Regional interests need inclusion and a timeline agreed and stuck to. Provided there is action to match the words most of those who gave evidence will be happy, as Chris Yarsley, Logistics UK’s Policy Manager for Wales, commented:

“The Committee’s proactive and comprehensive plan to tackle the HGV driver shortage demonstrates that it has listened closely to the concerns and suggestions of Logistics UK and incorporated our proposals. These include measures to develop HGV driver apprenticeship programmes, increase the number of training providers available, and expedite the development of regional and national freight strategies.

”Most crucially, the Committee calls upon the Welsh Government to announce a national audit of rest facilities for drivers with the intention to improve provision where it has been found to be lacking, something we have been championing on behalf of our members for some time, since poor driver facilities continue to be a huge barrier to recruitment and retention of drivers.

”Now, it is vital that the Welsh Government moves swiftly to enact these measures, and works closely with industry throughout the process to ensure the best possible outcome to support Wales’s logistics sector and wider economy.”