Shortage in HGV drivers may slow online deliveries, survey reveals

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6th January 2016 12:19 - Transport and Distribution

A new transport and distribution survey by Wincanton, Britain’s largest logistics firm, which has approximately 5,500 drivers of LGVs (large goods vehicles), has revealedShortage in HGV drivers may slow online deliveries, survey reveals that customers will have to wait longer for their online orders to arrive as a result of a shortage of lorry drivers.

Wincanton is calling for joint action from the Government and the logistics industry to combat the shortage – which is nearing crisis levels – before impacts the wider economy and starts to affect consumers.

Figures from the Freight Transport Association have revealed that Britain requires an additional 60,000 LGV drivers, as well as the existing 326,000 qualified LGV drivers already in the United Kingdom; however, just 20,000 people are entering the profession annually.

Human Resources Director at Wincanton, Julie Welch, suggested that delivery costs could increase, as well as items taking longer to arrive, as businesses fight for qualified drivers – this will in turn increase wages.

Welch said: “It won’t be a case of turkeys not being on supermarket shelves for Christmas, because the large companies can put more resources into the problem,”

“It will be smaller deliveries, such as those that end up in consumers’ homes, that will become much more delayed. Companies like Amazon could be affected. The big food retailers that do home deliveries could raise minimum spending levels to make them more cost-effective as they seek efficiencies,”

According to figures by the Road Haulage Association, the crisis is being fuelled by the demographic of existing drivers, with more than 50 per cent being aged 50+ and nearing the age of retirement. The figures also revealed that the logistics industry is finding attracting young candidates difficult, with less than 5 per cent of lorry drivers being under the age of 25.

Concerns also surround the fact that red tape may be deterring people from entering a job which pays £35,000 per year, with higher rates for driving chemical or fuel tankers.

Welch added: “Rightly so, but health and safety laws now stop young people from spending a day in a lorry’s cab and getting to see what the job is about,”

“People don’t get to learn about a career that pays well and has chances to progress.”

According to the Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, the cost of qualifying to drive a large commercial vehicle also deters people from entering into the profession.

Burnett said: “Getting a truck licence costs somewhere between £3,000 and £5,000 – a huge amount of money for people trying to enter the industry – and most haulage businesses are small family companies who run on very small margins, so they too struggle to fund the training.”

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