Responding to a recent survey, 7 out of 10 people said they reckoned the HGV driver shortage had worsened since December last year. The same survey found that, as a result, most respondents expected delays over Christmas 2017.
The poll, which canvassed recruiters providing heavy goods drivers to retailers and distributors, found that 80% of agencies believe the situation will be further aggravated by a limited EU workforce.
Conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the survey uncovered that over half of recruiters were sceptical about whether Christmas deliveries would be completed before the 25th.
Kevin Green, chief executive of REC, said: “Our members are very concerned about ongoing problems in finding candidates for driver roles. Especially at this time of the year with Christmas shopping going on, not having enough drivers to deliver goods can have dire consequences.
“We know that there are a number of reasons why the sector has problems finding new talent. These range from expensive training to high insurance rates for young drivers and bad infrastructure. The industry needs to tackle these issues and at the same time ensure that the working environment attracts a more diverse workforce.
“If the government fails in securing EU workers’ rights post-Brexit the current predicament could turn into a catastrophe.”
Delays Expected over Christmas – Urgency Required
Moreover, 98% of recruiters said they were suffering from a shortage of drivers.
One respondent, Drivers Direct MD Gethin Roberts, believes hiring new personnel is a matter of urgency for the sector.
“Research shows that the average age of a HGV driver is 53, with only 2% of HGV drivers aged under 25,” he said.
“To encourage people to join the industry we need to secure more funding for vocational training, better driver facilities and a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of working in this rewarding sector.”