How HGV driver shortages are affecting logistics recruitment

The UK’s severe shortage of HGV drivers has led to a considerable increase in pressure for logistics companies. The problem isn’t only confined to the UK but appears globally as well; logistics companies need more HGV drivers on their rosters if they want to keep up with growing business expectations. However, due to the lack of available candidates, it becomes almost impossible for them to find skilled workers who fit into their company culture and are able to start work at the earliest opportunity.

This is not just an issue for the logistics industry but also the country as a whole. With so many job vacancies, it’s no wonder that competition for logistics recruitment has intensified, leading to higher wages and better benefits being offered by employers. 

With the UK’s continued reliance on the logistics industry and an ever-expanding customer base, it is no surprise that the country has a shortage of HGV drivers. In recent years, the competition to recruit these much-needed workers has increased, with many lorry driving jobs going unfilled. This shortage is causing problems for logistics companies, petrol stations, supermarkets and putting stress on the rest of society as goods cannot be transported efficiently or, in some cases, not delivered at all.

Why now?

The shortage that the HGV drivers market has been experiencing can be linked to an increased demand for goods within the UK and across Europe but it is not the main reason. The three main reasons for the shortage of drivers are:

1. Covid 19 

The Covid 19 pandemic played its part. As travel restrictions increased, many HGV drivers from the EU went back to their native countries and according to haulage companies, few have returned. 

2. Brexit

Brexit is a contributing factor to why so few HGV drivers have returned to the UK. When the UK was part of the EU, HGV drivers could come to the UK to work as they pleased. However, additional border security meant that it was more complicated for them to enter and leave the UK. 

3. Test shortage

According to a survey by the Road Haulage Association, during a normal year, an average of 72,000 candidates train to become HGV drivers, with 40,000 succeeding. However, the closure of vocational driving test centres in 2020 resulted in a loss of an estimated 30,000 test slots leaving only 15,000 slots available. 

How is it affecting companies?

Companies in all industries are feeling the effects of the lack of HGV drivers. Morrisons warned the shortage could potentially force them to increase prices, Nando’s have had to temporarily close 50 restaurants and BP have been forced to temporarily close some of their petrol stations as a result of not being able to have fuel delivered to them. 

What is being done?

With the impact being felt across all industries, it’s evident that something needs to be done – and quickly. The Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett has written a letter to the Prime Minister asking for help in implementing solutions for the driver shortage crisis. 

The letter includes short, medium and long term solutions to the crisis:

Short-term solutions

The letter has asked the government to introduce a temporary worker visa for HGV drivers and for the occupation to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List. This would allow logistics companies in the UK to access a workforce in the EU that can live and work in the UK and hopefully appeal to the drivers that left at the start of the pandemic to come back and work in the UK once again. However, this was opposed by some cabinet members who would prefer a plan to tempt some of the 600,000 people in the UK with heavy goods licenses back to the sector. Some ministers are keen to avoid the perception that the shortage of drivers was caused by Brexit.

Medium-term solutions

The government to work closely with the industry to address the bigger issues around the skills shortages. Working collectively to introduce a sustainable way of training and recruiting homegrown drivers so we can reduce our reliance on a foreign workforce. 

Long-term solutions 

Re-establish the DEFRA Food Resilience Industry Forum which helped the nation’s supply chains throughout the pandemic. The RHA’s view is that there has never been a more challenging time for the logistics industry and are continually urging the government  to take action so they can continue to maintain the UK’s supply chains. 

The government has started to act on this crisis by relaxing rules on driver hours by allowing them to increase their driving limit by 2 hours, twice a week. However, it has been criticised as it could compromise the safety standards.

Changes to the HGV testing process are also set to be announced, with predicted plans to shake-up the testing process expected to be introduced.

What can companies do to recruit new drivers?

As economic activity increases, freight revenue is expected to grow by over 4% annually from 2020 to 2025. Companies are reacting to this expected growth by increasing their efforts to recruit and retain HGV drivers. Tesco are offering a £1000 signing bonus, Aldi have increased wages for their drivers and Waitrose have given their drivers a pay rise of about £2 per hour and introduced a welcome bonus of £1000 for new drivers.

All of these efforts from companies trying to recruit new drivers has led to fierce competition to attract and retain HGV drivers. 

So, how do you try to level the playing field and recruit the drivers your company needs? 

Outsourcing recruitment can help address this problem without putting too much strain on businesses. Recruitment experts have all the tools necessary to find skilled candidates quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption or risk to companies. 

Recruitment agencies can help businesses by sourcing potential employees through job portals, offline channels or using advanced recruitment software such as ‘Employer Fencing’

Once an organisation makes the decision to outsource their recruitment, all the leg-work will be done for them and they will only be presented with candidates who have been pre-screened for the specific requirements of the role, saving companies time and money. Some recruiters, such as crooton charge a flat fee regardless of how many qualified candidates the company chooses to hire from the campaign, making it a very cost-effective solution, particularly when hiring multiple candidates. 

To find out how we can help your organisation stay ahead of your competitors and recruit logistics workers your company needs, contact one of the team today.