How can we solve the HGV driver shortage?
The HGV driver shortage is affecting all parts of the UK, with shelves running bare in many stores. The construction industry is facing a shortage of materials, and food prices are also increasing. We need more lorry drivers across the UK, but how do we do recruit more people into HGV driving as a career?
There are a lot of benefits of being a HGV driver. However, there are also some negatives like with any job.
- Lots of opportunity for travel and seeing new places
- It’s easy to find a job as a HGV driver
- If you love driving, this is the job for you.
- Lack of respect for the role
- Working conditions and risk from being on the road all day
- Poor quality truck stops in the UK.
Many HGV drivers love driving, which is why they started in the industry in the first place, and one of our drivers from our survey commented:
“If you love driving and have a passion for driving and love the open road and site seeing then HGV driving is for you.”
What’s the impact of the lorry driver shortage, and what can be done to improve the situation? We explore below.
The Impact of the Lorry Driver Shortage on Shops
The combination of Brexit, COVID-19, and border control restrictions has resulted in a decrease in the number of lorry drivers in the UK. As a result, this is now having a massive impact on retailers. It’s becoming more challenging than ever to recruit HGV drivers, which is why it’s important to work with a specialist HGV driver recruitment agency. With stores often having huge gaps, this is impacting the everyday lives of everyone in the UK.
Milk and dairy products amongst other farm products are the most affected. It’s expected that this disruption will continue throughout the Autumn and Winter, restricting the number of deliveries each week to supermarkets and local convenience stores. Brands such as Haribo are starting to feel the effect of the HGV driver shortage.
How Can the UK Overcome the HGV Driver Shortage?
From our research, and speaking with many more drivers at events and online, the key issues to solve are:
- Better quality truck stops
- Safer working conditions
- Revised entry requirements
- Changing CPC
- Improved pay
- Increased respect from the general public.
Better Quality Truck Stops on Major Routes
Across the country, there is a lack of good-quality truck stops on major routes. The A14 is a terrible route for stopping on, meaning drivers often have poor quality rest which can lead to accidents on the road. Simon Watton from Wayside Transport, quoted in iNews, compared the facilities for HGV drivers in the UK with Europe and said ‘they [the Europeans] have top-notch facilities free of charge for their drivers.’
One of the respondents to our survey, who rated their pay as a HGV driver as 9/10, also commented on what truck stops could do to improve for lorry drivers:
“More toilets and cleaner services for drivers. More options for overnight and midday visits. Discounts on food and services. More places for lorry drivers to relax and recuperate.”
Data from our own research of over 50 HGV drivers revealed that 68% of HGV drivers think truck stops are ‘Inadequate’, with 36% of drivers rating the quality of truck drops as ‘Terrible’.
While a few examples of good truck stops do exist, we need more of these across the UK. Features like a 24-hour manned petrol station, showers, a self-service kitchen, and laundry facilities are needed by most drivers. It’s important that drivers feel safe and secure leaving their vehicles at these stops, so they can get the rest they need.
Safer Working Conditions
One of the biggest reasons individuals avoid a career in HGV is their concerns about the working conditions. One of our respondents commented:
“It is a highly skilled and stressful job, which needs to be recognised by all transport companies, and better rewarded both in terms of pay and conditions, to truly reflect the value of the role.”
To make it safer for drivers today, more break flexibility is needed in their schedules. A few drivers we surveyed also commented on needing a better work-life balance:
“Less hours better pay, work life balance needs adjusting.”
This is something that companies need to work on to encourage and enforce breaks within their team. The vehicles they are working with need to be regularly checked to ensure they are safe and comfortable for drivers, with the right facilities either in the cab or at service stations to ensure good quality rest. This is something that the drivers need to take responsibility for as well to keep maintaining the highest safety standards, which is detailed in the CPC training all HGV drivers must do.
More Accessible Entry Requirements
As a result of Brexit, companies are now looking to recruit a new team of British drivers to fill the gaps. For this reason, we should be looking at making the entry requirements more accessible. There have also been discussions regarding visas for drivers, which would help to fill some of these gaps. It’s believed that the time to become a HGV driver is usually between six and nine months, which is why we are experiencing so many gaps in the industry even with increased recruitment efforts. By speeding up this process, fast-tracking Class 2 driver upgrades, and tweaking entry requirements, we could increase the intake of new HGV drivers.
Incentives and Compensation
We’ve all seen past recruitment drives for other industries, and it’s about time there was one for careers in HGV.
Some of these past campaigns have offered attractive incentives to applicants and help to support them financially through their training. Without these incentives and campaigns, it’s unlikely HGV careers will receive the attention that’s needed at this current time.
D&A Recruitment are offering free CPC training for all drivers and free HGV driver licence upgrades to all Class 2 drivers. We hope that the Department for Transport and others will start to offer incentives that drivers care about.
When it comes to pay, our survey revealed that drivers have mixed opinions on how well they are paid. Adequate pay is one of the main reasons for the HGV driver shortage we are experiencing in the UK. Over 40% of HGV drivers we surveyed were happy with the pay they received, with 17% rating the pay as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.
Of those who rated their pay below 5/10, over half of those drivers commented on poor conditions at truck stops around the UK. Improving truck stops around the UK is crucial to improving the perception of HGV driving as a career.
The current HGV driver shortage is something we will likely be dealing with for many years. Over this time, we can only expect the supply chain issues to continue to increase, and consumers and retailers will soon become frustrated with these problems. The government and employers should work to improve conditions for HGV drivers, which would help to make it a more attractive career for everyone. By solving the issues above, we can attract new drivers into the industry.