Does the UK Driving Industry need a shake-up?

One of our key areas here at ARC is the driving industry. We are always on the lookout for drivers and with the recent spotlight shining upon these key workers during COVID, it has also highlighted a few issues within the driving sector.

A shortage of drivers.

According to an ITV news feature at the end of 2020, in 2019 there was a shortage of 59,000 HGV drivers in the UK, with that figure growing to 76,000 in 2020. There are currently only 74 full time examiners across the whole country and with lockdown halting lessons and tests, this has impacted the shortage further.

Prior to coronavirus, the average waiting time for a LGV driving test was less than 3 weeks. In common with many organisations, the pandemic severely impacted our operations. We are working on ways to increase the number of tests we have available and will open these up on our test booking system as soon as we can. – A DVSA spokesman

There are many other reasons why the industry is struggling for drivers. An ageing workforce, an impact on work life balance, salaries, economic issues and even Brexit have all played a part. A report by an Insurance Broker showed the average age of truck drivers is 53 and 13% of them are over 60, meaning that many will be retiring within the next five to ten years. However, with only 2% under the age of 25, there are not enough young drivers to replace them. The perception often portrayed of being a lorry driver also does not help haulage become a highly sought after career!

Brexit, a global pandemic and new legislation!
Brexit presents another challenge in the industry. New and increased costs for haulage outside of the UK is drastically affecting haulage. Shipping line fees have rocketed, container delays have increased and an increase in official paperwork and documentation have been a headache for both driver and haulage companies. We’ve all become familiar with the sights presented by the media with miles of lorries queuing at Dover; hardly an enticing sight for any potential new driver coming into the industry!

Despite the recognition of the hard work carried out by drivers during Coronavirus helping to keep our supermarket shelves stocked and the economy going, the pandemic did shake the industry. In the early months of Covid, we saw a positive test often resulted in a domino effect for drivers, which resulted in a high volume of cancellations. Although it seemed to affect European drivers more, the industry did react quickly and now drivers are used to the “new normal” with clear, safe procedures to follow whilst working. And thankfully with the vaccine becoming more widely available, our drivers aren’t impacted in the same way now like they were.

And if a global pandemic and Brexit isn’t challenging enough, the government’s change to IR 35 has added another layer of confusion for many – and not just in the driving sector. (Take a look at our IR 35 blog) We’ve been busy working with our driving candidates and clients to navigate through this – make sure you get in touch if we can help you! The deadline for the new change is Tuesday 6th April so be quick to understand this if you don’t already.

The future!
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Despite challenges, the sector is vital for the economy and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. There aren’t many other industries that allow the freedom that driving does, with opportunities to travel across the UK and into Europe. It’s a great avenue for people to get out of unemployment, especially if they don’t possess strong academic qualifications. We have candidates who love the way of life that driving offers, and we have brilliant companies who we work with that, despite the challenges, are highly successful and operate to a very high standard.

So if you are a candidate or a client within the driving industry, get in touch to see how we can support your business.

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