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As 2024 begins, it’s crucial to evaluate the current state of the HGV driver shortage. In this week’s blog, we’ll delve into the causes behind the shortage, the government’s efforts to address it and whether it’s still an issue for the transport and logistics sector.
Several factors contributed to the HGV driver shortage, creating a perfect storm of challenges for the industry:
Ageing population – The average age of a lorry driver was 53 in 2019, with a significant portion over 60 and only 2% under 25. The aging workforce led to a continuous stream of retirements, exacerbating the shortage.
COVID-19 – Lockdowns and self-isolation disrupted industries, shutting down driver test facilities and causing a loss of 30,000 HGV driver test slots. Additionally, non-UK drivers returned to their home countries due to pandemic-related uncertainties.
Brexit – New rules post-Brexit, while not outright banning non-UK drivers, created complications in recruiting HGV drivers from EU member states, impacting the supply of qualified drivers.
IR35 – Changes to IR35 rules in April 2021 affected HGV drivers employed via agencies on a contractor basis, leading to disputes and drivers leaving the industry.
To tackle the HGV driver shortage, the government introduced several measures, including:
• Temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules.
• Initiatives to encourage retired HGV drivers to return to work.
• Encouragement for employers to invest in UK-based workers.
• Funding for training new HGV drivers and increasing driving test availability.
• Consideration of revising licensing laws to allow newly-qualified drivers to operate trucks up to 7.5 tonnes.
Despite positive improvements in the driver shortage crisis (43% increase of HGV practical driving tests taken in the first quarter of 2022), 2024 presents a new challenge. The Office for National Statistics estimates a record number of almost half a million driver qualification cards are set to expire in 2024, necessitating significant re-training efforts. This equates to 17 million hours of required retraining, which will almost certainly strain training facilities and driver availability in 2024.
The Department for Education’s Driver Academy Skills Bootcamps and initiatives by organisations like Red Driver Training signal a commitment to training the next generation of HGV drivers. These efforts are contributing to the overall well-being of the sector, assuring that the industry is on a path to recovery.
In 2024, it’s important that transport operations do what they can to attract new talent into the industry. This can be achieved by adopting the latest technology to alleviate much of the frustration and stress drivers face.
The TrackTrans software suite simplifies the role of transport management; allowing users to oversee schedules, facilitate seamless communication of updates and make real-time adjustments to journeys. Additional functionalities, like electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), alleviate concerns for drivers regarding paper proof of deliveries, while route optimisation aids in avoiding traffic congestion or the need for drivers to manually seek alternative routes, ensuring timely job completion.
Take charge of your operations and streamline your logistics processes. Try our free demo today and discover how TrackTrans can transform the way you navigate 2024.
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