The shortage of HGV drivers has put great strain on even the best providers of freight logistics solutions, but the problem can be solved through more apprenticeships, according to one industry boss.
Anton Gunter, the managing director of Telford-based Global Freight Services, told the Shropshire Star the issue is not just a consequence of Brexit or the Covid ‘pingdemic’, although these are part of the problem.
He remarked that while these factors have made matters worse, “there have been challenges around staff shortages in the haulage sector for many years”.
The real problem, Mr Gunter said, was that the job of driving an HGV is “undervalued within society and demands a huge amount of investment in training”, with the cost of obtaining a licence proving too costly for many young people to seek to do it. This leads to an ageing workforce where retiring members are not being replaced by young recruits.
He said the way out of this problem was to increase the number of apprenticeships with government support for the industry to do this. With the effects of the problem so apparent, the industry should “strike while the iron is hot” in campaigning for this help, to “open up as many opportunities as possible for young people who might like a career in the haulage industry”.
While more apprenticeships might provide a long-term solution, dealing with the problem as it stands in 2021 may require alternative steps, such as recruiting more drivers from overseas.
This could mean relaxing immigration rules introduced in the wake of Brexit, which is one of the proposals listed in the Royal Haulage Association’s 12-point plan submitted in June to tackle the situation.
Last month the organisation pointed to substantial public support for this proposal, pointing to a Politics.co.uk poll showing 47 per cent of the public in favour of such a step, with only 21 per cent against.