You might not have noticed (or you might have if you read our blog regularly), but the UK is facing a bit of a crisis. Of course, there is all the uncertainty of Brexit, but on top of that, the UK is in the middle of an extended, growing driver shortage. The haulage industry is the backbone of the UK economy, and without it many companies will struggle to stay afloat. But with over 45,000 drivers needed to meet minimum requirements and no sign of a solution on the horizon, official bodies are now turning to the Government for help.
Both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) met with the Department for Transport and the Treasury Department earlier this year, informing them of the need for financial assistance or even full Government funding for students looking to achieve their truck licenses.
This group represented the interests of the haulage industry as a whole, stressing the point that at this stage, Government funding is needed to help provide financing solutions that encourage a new wave of young HGV drivers. They presented a number of options to help achieve this, including using student grants, loan assistance or setting up new incentive schemes. Whichever option is chosen, the aim will be the same – to make HGV driver training affordable and accessible to young people and students who are old enough to hold the licence.
The causes of the driver shortage are numerous, but there is one thing that stands out. As older drivers are reaching retirement, they are leaving the field, and not enough new drivers are coming in to replace them. This leaves the pool of qualified HGV drivers significantly diminished – a problem that will only get worse over time.
Of course, like every good plan, there is also a plan B. In an official statement issued jointly by the FTA and the RHA, they suggested that an alternative solution could be to provide grants directly to road transport operators and haulage companies, who would then use the funds to train and hire new drivers. This would shift the financial burden away from the individual driver students (who may not be able to afford the prices of training on their own), and onto the companies looking for drivers. In practice, it will be no different to providing on-the-job training in any other industry. The only adjustment will be that businesses will need to factor time for training in when they hire someone, instead of expecting them to jump right in.
The reason for such drastic action at this stage should be clear – with the UK short around 45,000 drivers, something needs to change, and soon. Every time an older driver retires, and no new driver takes their place, that shortage gets a little worse. And unless something happens to change that, the situation is only going to get worse.
Like learning any new work-based skill, training to become an HGV driver takes some money to do. But young people interested in becoming drivers shouldn’t be put off just because of the cost. That’s why it’s important to provide finance schemes and incentives to make training easier and more accessible to young people.
At The LGV Training Centre, we understand just how dire the situation really is. That’s why we make it our mission to provide training to young drivers, providing special offers and discounts to students and incentives to businesses looking to put young drivers through training. Being an HGV driver is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career, and we want to spread that as far as possible! If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.