Preparing for the skills gap

Co-Founder | HGVtraining.co.uk

It’s no secret that Britain is facing a serious logistics skills gap.  With an estimated 60,000 new HGV drivers needed by 2020, this is not only an issue that affects logistics firms, or companies with logistics arms, but could impact the entire British economy.  Left unchecked, we’re talking empty shelves in supermarkets, shrinking profits for businesses and an overall slowing of economic growth.

The Government – among others – is now working to fill this gap, but whether this is possible in the timeframe remains to be seen.  Road haulage is still, unfairly, seen by some as an unattractive industry – and recent events such as the situation in Calais have done little to generate positive press.

Ultimately, an impending skills gap means that any business that provides or uses logistics in day to day operations is under threat and this means that something has to be done.  So, to some extent it is up to each individual business to take charge of the situation and to ensure that it is protected from any shortfall.

With that in mind, here are some ways that your business can prepare for the road haulage skills gap:

1. Make a plan now and put it into action.  You might not yet be experiencing the difficulties associated with a skills gap, but this could happen sooner than you think.  Based on your business and location, assess how a skills gap might affect you, and begin to plan for how you will cope if it happens.

2. Use the available resources.  With the internet it has never been easier to connect with potential employees.  In fact, through a new tool on our website, you can find a driver in a location near you at the click of a button.

3. Engage with youth.  It’s estimated that around 20 per cent of the current HGV workforce will reach retirement age in the next ten years.  Clearly, the future of HGV driving lies in engaging with youth as early as possible.  This could be through a formalised apprenticeship scheme, or could be through visits and relationships with schools and colleges.  Essentially, it’s not falling into the trap of automatically disregarding younger drivers, as many companies do.  With the right training, the investment can be more than worthwhile.

4. Make your business as attractive as possible to new recruits.  When there’s a skills shortage, the power is in the hands of the individuals, not the businesses.  That means businesses will have to assess the package they are offering to ensure it is as attractive as possible to attract and retain the best talent.

5. Pay for the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence.  When this was introduced across the EU, an estimated 20,000 greatly needed drivers quit or retired.  The actual cost – £500 – is a lot for an individual, but could be a small price to pay for a business if they get to retain staff.

6. Train to retain. Reducing employee turnover is beneficial in a number of ways, but it can be invaluable during a skills shortage.  One of the best ways to engage and retain your staff is through a constant programme of training and upskilling.  This not only helps their careers to progress, but means your business provides and overall higher level of service.  A win-win situation.

7. Understand and overcome the barriers to training.  Upskilling is an important part of career progression, but all too often it is side-lined due to the lack of time, the lack of funding, or the inability to find good trainers.  However these barriers are all easy to navigate, and while individuals aren’t always self-reliant, an ingrained culture of training can go a long way.  In its simplest form, you just need to ensure that you make the time and funds available to support training. When it comes to good trainers, building a strong relationship with an expert training company is a great idea as it makes the process of sourcing drivers much easier.