Fifteen per cent of current HGV driver vacancies cannot be filled, according to a new report from the Freight Transport Association (FTA) that has implications for the online and multichannel retailers that logistics companies serve.
The FTA’s 2019 Logistics report questioned more than 500 freight and logistics businesses operating both in the UK and internationally and found that they expected not to be able to fill 15% of their current vacancies, while there will be delays in filling a further 36%.
Shortages of van drivers, warehouse staff, fitters, technicians and mechanics are also predicted, partly as a result of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Sally Gilson, head of skills campaigns at the FTA, said: “The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, employing more than 2.7 million people and contributing £124 billion gross value added (GVA). From HGV drivers to warehouse staff, the UK economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce – businesses would come grinding to a halt and Britain would cease trading.
“An ageing workforce, competition for skilled staff, and shifting migration patterns – in part in response to Brexit – mean we are facing serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of labour for key logistics roles. After all, the average age of a HGV driver is 48 years, as found in the survey, and 13 per cent of HGV drivers working in the UK are EU nationals; their continued residency is not guaranteed post-Brexit.”
She said the FTA was calling for unused Apprenticeship Levy funds to be used in more flexible training programmes, and for amends to the Future Immigration White Paper ensuring that non-UK logistics workers were welcome in the UK before and after Brexit.
The report also showed the effect Brexit uncertainty was having on the industry, with 61% saying it was a barrier to the international growth of their businesses.
Commenting, John Simkins, head of transport and logistics at Santander Corporate and Commercial, said: “Uncertainty has been the inevitable reality for UK businesses over the last year, especially for those operating in transport and logistics. In order that UK businesses can continue their operations with as little disruption as possible, it is vital that we work closely with the transport and logistics industry to ensure we support them in recruiting the skilled logistics staff they desperately need.”