According to the country’s largest logistics concern, Britons shopping online may have to get used to slower deliveries due to a nearly-critical shortage of lorry drivers.
Solution for Qualified Driver Shortage
Wincanton is hoping for a broad-spectrum solution combining Government and private-sector action to make up for the driver shortage before it starts to do serious damage to the economy and cost consumers money. Wincanton employs roughly 5,500 LGV (large goods vehicle) drivers.
According to figures calculated by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Britain’s 326,000 qualified LGV drivers need around 60,000 compatriots to meet the UK’s burgeoning demand. The annual intake of new drivers is currently only about 20,000.
Added Costs Could be Passed on to Consumers
Wincanton’s HR director, Julie Welch, said that delivery delays aren’t the only problem on the horizon. Competition for the limited supply of qualified drivers could drive up wages, and logistics companies may have to pass that added cost on to the consumer.
Welch said the problem was unlikely to take the shape of food shortages at the supermarket, due to the extra resources that commercial clients can muster to keep their supply chains running smoothly.
Smaller deliveries, like products shipped directly to consumers’ homes, are more likely to be the first victims of driver shortages. Major retailers like Amazon may feel the pinch, and consumers could end up facing surcharges and minimum order limits as retailers seek methods to counteract the higher cost of delivery.
Demographic of the UL Lorry Drivers
The current demographic spread of UK lorry drivers is a significant part of the problem. Over half the country’s drivers are above the age of 50 and considering retirement. Based on data from the Road Haulage Association, the industry is struggling to attract younger drivers willing to make a career with LGVs. Less than 5 percent of qualified lorry drivers are under the age of 25.
Red tape and bureaucracy may also be responsible for steering people away from lorry-driving jobs. Average pay is roughly £35,000 per annum, and drivers that qualify for more challenging loads like chemical tankers and fuel trucks can earn much more.
Due to modern health and safety laws, Welch says, it’s harder for youngsters to ride along in a lorry cab and get a clear understanding of what the job entails. Fewer young people get exposed to the potentially-lucrative career of lorry driving.
Another barrier to entering the industry is the high HGV training cost. Richard Burnett, the Road Haulage Association’s chief executive, says that training and certification costs are becoming prohibitively expensive. Much of the haulage industry is comprised of family companies operating on tight margins, it may not be possible for employers to help bear the cost of training.
Wincanton, along with other companies and industry groups, is teaming up to lobby for Government assistance. Proposed solutions include subsidised apprenticeships and training programmes.
The Silver Lining
The good news here is that there are tremendous opportunities available if you’re considering a career change! It is understandable that driving an HGV may not be your first thought when you consider a new career. Like any career, HGV driving isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. For those suited to the task, though, lorry driving is engaging, secure work that pays surprisingly well and offers you many opportunities to expand your skills.
Right now, the sector has more than 50,000 job openings, and there’s no reason not to try and take one for yourself. This is well worth considering for anybody who’s in the market for a new career.
Those 50,000 openings must be filled within four years if the UK is going to avoid a serious economic crisis. It might be a frightening prospect for retailers and delivery companies, but it’s nothing but good news for those considering a career in HGV driving.