Empty supermarket shelves have been noticeable for some weeks. However, when some of the biggest fast-food chains started taking leading products off their menus, or even restricting their opening hours, truck driver shortages in the UK really started to ‘hit home’.
According to a Road Haulage Association survey, the industry currently has a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers.
The media have been quick to bounce on product shortages that grab public interest, including everything from Haribo sweets to McDonald’s milkshakes. However, for many manufacturing, engineering and wholesaling companies struggling to bounce back from the pandemic, not being able to get basic ingredients and materials delivered is putting their commercial survival in jeopardy.
A Bank of England report into the issue (covering April to June 2021) revealed that everything from furniture production to automobile assembly was suffering due to transport and logistics problems.
What’s behind truck driver shortages?
The reasons for truck driver shortages can seem obvious, including the ramifications of Brexit and new restrictions and taxes placed on EU-based personnel, especially as many foreign nationals returned home when COVID struck and never came back to the profession. Also, the pandemic had a serious impact on driver recruitment and training.
However, the Road Haulage Association has been quick to point out that the industry was finding recruitment hard before Brexit and COVID too.
What are the solutions to truck driver shortages?
The UK Government has responded to the driver crisis in the UK by announcing a review of qualification criteria to speed up training in a safe way and plans to help hauliers make the profession more attractive.
Some of the biggest names in retail have stepped in to ease the issue too. For instance, Tesco is paying a £1,000 joining bonus for a limited period, to get more drivers to sign up to work for them or one of the other three leading supermarket brands.
Many retailers and transport companies have boosted driver wages and incentives too, as well as diversifying their workforce and highlighting the career opportunities in this sector so they can attract and train a new generation of drivers.
This all costs money!
Transport-reliant companies and logistics firms are having to take steps to protect their profit margins, including increasing their charges to customers and finding cost-effective suppliers.
This is why James Hart Chorley Ltd is working with its customers in the transport trade, to find affordable solutions to their truck sales, servicing and repair needs.