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Survey shows UK still reliant on EU drivers

Jan 04, 2017
An analysis of professional drivers by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) released in October showed a drop in driver shortages across the UK but highlights the sector’s reliance on staff from the European Union.

The independent ‘Driver Shortage: issues and trends’ report, prepared for FTA by RepGraph Ltd, calculates the shortfall between the number of registered HGVs and the number of qualified drivers has dropped to 34,567 - back to the pre driver crisis levels of 2012.

However, FTA says the challenge for vehicle operators is far from over with only 530 unemployed drivers claiming benefit in August 2016, meaning there is no pool of qualified drivers on which employers can draw. Uncertainty over Brexit, poor roadside facilities for drivers and the high cost of licence acquisition are all impacting on the sector.

FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham said, “The report highlights the industry’s reliance on EU nationals, with more than 30,000 – 10% of the entire driver workforce – currently employed in the UK.”

“The uncertainty about their employment rights and status once Britain leaves the EU is a major concern for businesses. We urge the government to ensure its Brexit negotiations afford special status to logistics and allow for this employment to continue so that the industry is not hit by another driver shortage crisis. We also need better roadside facilities - especially if we are going to attract more women into the industry - and more help from government with the cost of acquiring a vocational licence, which is often cited as a barrier to recruitment.”

Photo: James Hookham

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