The reasons behind the HGV driver shortage

Founder and Managing Director | returnloads.net

The current driver shortage is now at a critical stage, it’s not getting any better and it’s not hard to see why.  I am sure some HGV drivers will disagree but in my opinion it’s not about the wages as decent rates are currently being provided across the industry.  I believe the issue is more likely linked to the way HGV drivers are perceived and treated and the poor image of the industry as a whole.

I don’t feel that as consumers and commercial businesses, who are dependent on an efficiently run supply chain, we fully appreciate the work that HGV drivers carry out especially these days where there are increasing demands and constraints placed on the drivers in their everyday work.

A poor industry image has negatively influenced the number of new recruits joining the industry and also the retention rate of existing drivers.

There are several different issues that are giving the industry and in particular the HGV driver’s role a poor image.  These include: a lack of career progression, poor road infrastructure, a lack of acceptable facilities for drivers, a lack of awareness of the industry, poor career advice in schools, financial barriers to obtaining a licence, barriers created by insurers, over-regulation, and the poor press the industry often receives.

All these issues combined creates the poor image the industry is suffering from and as a result makes it difficult for the haulage industry to attract fresh, young talent in to it.

If something isn’t done now to attract new drivers to the industry we will have a real crisis on our hands and the country could literally grind to a halt.  These drivers are key to holding the country’s supply chains together.

Although we can’t address all the issues at once we can address some and by us all doing our bit to help make the job less stressful it will make the job more appealing to a younger generation of drivers.

There are some simple changes like better planning and a little more flexibility which could be done to help make the job of a driver less frustrating and more attractive to the next generation.  More could be done about the time drivers spend waiting during the loading and unloading process due to poor, inefficient planning.

Delays are frustrating for any driver and they have an impact on delivery schedules, any delay during the day will make for a longer shift and, as a result, less time can be spent with family and friends.  With most people a working day’s impact on family and home life is a very important consideration to be made when choosing a career.

Better and more efficient planning in the warehouse would considerably reduce these types of delays and ensure orders are also processed correctly.  Two areas which often have negative consequences on both customers and a drivers.

Facilities for drivers in the UK are pretty poor and will definitely need improving.  When unloading on site instead of the driver just standing around waiting it would be great if they were offered shelter, especially in winter, and decent waiting facilities where they can get a cup of tea and have a short break.  Simple things like this that we take for granted can make a big difference to the working day of a driver.

The other thing we can all do to help make the job more attractive is to treat our drivers with a higher level of respect across the whole industry.  These drivers are professionally trained and doing their jobs to the best of their ability and they should be treated with respect for it.

If we all stopped for a minute and realised how important these drivers are at keeping our supply chain and country moving and begin to appreciate them for it, as opposed to expecting more from them, this would increase driver morale and send a clear message to the next generation that being a HGV driver is a rewarding career.

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