The haulage industry in the UK is one of the few sectors to have maintained a slow but steady growth even through the height of the recession. Nevertheless, the staff acquisition and retention rate remains a big issue for the industry and has remained well below par. The Freight Transport Association first raised the concern of the diminishing workforce during a conference in 2003 identifying lack of skills and ageing personnel as the main problems affecting the industry.
Has something changed in the decade post-dating the conference? Well, the drivers are certainly getting older and are busy planning their retirement, whilst younger generations don’t see the appeal in the job. The orchestrated influx of drivers from abroad in the mid-2000s seems to have kept the UK’s logistics industry afloat to a certain extent; nevertheless, there is still a big shortage in LGV drivers.
Of 300,000 18-wheelers crisscrossing the UK roads every day, almost half is driven by drivers aged between 45 and 59. It is hardly a young men’s profession these days, with only 1% of all drivers under 25. One of the arguments is that employing young drivers makes less sense because of the increased insurance premiums, which is only partly true. Young LGV driver insurance may be a bit more costly, for one reason or the other, but the majority of businesses are actually looking to employ young drivers, due to their long-term perspective and stability.
Furthermore and as far as diversity is concerned; only 1% of all drivers are women and there’s no reason why this should be so. The days when it took a lot of strength to handle a long vehicle are long gone.
One of the contributing factors to the ever-diminishing LGV drivers population is the new legislation and licensing regulations introduced in 2009. The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, CPC, became mandatory for everyone driving a truck heavier than 3.5 tonnes. There are many CPC driver training centres across the country and renewing a CPC involves undergoing a 35-hour course once every 5 years. Some drivers considered the CPC a bit too much and decided to change profession, leaving a gaping hole in the haulage companies’ staff lists.
The fact is, however, that the UK industry needs more drivers. Currently, 60% of the national flow of goods is carried out on the roads. The LGV sector enjoys an annual turnover of £22 billion and presently it is capped by the employment issues. Logistics is a good place to be in 2012 – it’s a driver’s market. The demand for good drivers significantly exceeds the supply, hence the average wage for an LGV driver has shot up during the last couple of years.
There is a potential for growth and the only hope is in creating awareness among young people. That’s why Skills for Logistics charity is campaigning nationwide to encourage young people to consider LGV driving their future career choice – a choice that is both exciting and very rewarding.