The LGV driver shortage crisis in the UK has escalated to such an extent that the Freight Transport Association has estimated an immediate shortage of 60,000 drivers with a quarter of the existing 326,000 qualified drivers set for retirement within the next ten years. A shortage of qualified large vehicle drivers will result in deliveries slowing down and goods becoming more expensive. Currently, there are only 20,000 LGV drives entering the driver job market each year, which means that the crisis will become progressively worse over time.
The UK’s largest logistics group, Wincanton, with 5,500 LGV drivers, has called for combined action from the government and industry to address the issue in order to avoid serious consequences for the wider economy of the country as well as impacting consumer pockets with rising prices. As a major threat to industry looms on the horizon with the prospect of empty shelves and late e-commerce deliveries there is an urgent need to train more drivers who are qualified to enter the heavy vehicle driving profession.
Driver Shortage Drives Prices Up for Online Shoppers
Online shoppers who rely entirely on the delivery of goods ordered will be affected by the shortage of drivers that will delay the timely arrival of goods. HR Director of Wincanton, Julie Welch has said that not only will deliveries be delayed, but prices will rise as companies push up wages in the fight for qualified drivers. Large companies may be able to delay the negative effects of the crisis by throwing more resources at the problem, but smaller delivery companies that deliver to consumer homes will bear the brunt of the problem. Online companies like Amazon could be affected as consumers go elsewhere to buy goods that are more readily available. Big food retailers that make deliveries to homes could raise their minimum spend levels as they seek efficiencies in order to be more cost-effective.
Blockages to Entry Into the Industry
Drivers qualified to carry dangerous loads like fuel and chemical loads could see wages hitting £35,000 or more per year. Other concerns are that red tape may be blocking candidates from taking an HGV course and entering a career in heavy vehicle driving as strict health and safety laws prevent young people from spending time in the cab of a lorry in order to experience what it would be like to have a career that pays well with chances to progress.
Fuelling the crises is the age profile of current LGV drivers as more than half are over the age of 50 and will be seeking retirement within the next ten years. According to the Road Haulage Association, less than 5% of LGV drivers are under the age of 25 and the industry is finding it difficult to attract young entrants.
Another barrier to becoming a qualified driver of a large commercial truck is the high cost of training and obtaining a truck driver’s license that costs anything between £3,000 and £5,000. This is a huge amount of money to lay out for young people seeking to enter the profession. Most haulage businesses are small family-owned concerns that run on very small margins and find it hard to fund training for new recruits. Large haulage companies such as Wincanton are now joining industry bodies in order to lobby for increased funding from the government to support training and apprenticeships for LGV drivers.
More Opportunities for Aspiring Drivers
The LGV driver crisis can turn out to be great news for those contemplating a career in the industry or those who are finding it difficult to find employment. It may not be your first choice, but a career as a heavy goods driver is secure and pays much more than most manual jobs with opportunities to further your skill set. There are currently 50,000 driver jobs in the sector with no sign of becoming less as there is a shortage of 60,000 driver jobs in the UK alone that needs to be filled within the next four years in order to prevent an economic catastrophe from happening.