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Ever Wondered Why We Have A Driver Shortage?

HGV drivers who leave HGV driving jobs use their HGV licence for their future job roles. Join the conversation with us, why UK faces HGV driver shortage?

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Why We Have A Driver Shortage?

Following on from our Think Tank series our explanatory graphic has been formulated using statistical data gathered from the ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Freedom of Information requests from the DVSA and DfT, and other publicly available DfT data.

The key point is that we start with an annual HGV testing capacity (in terms of available examiners) of 100,000 tests and we end up with just 9,500 new HGV passes remaining in the sector as career lorry drivers, i.e. less than 10%. Just enough to offset the number retiring each year. In other words, the size of the driver pool has not changed in over 10 years.

Note that this analysis describes the status quo for the 10 - 20 years prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We know that since the Pandemic started our HGV driver pool has contracted by 50,000, i.e 1/6th of the original pool of 300,000.

The most interesting number is the 15,500 who "left" HGV driving as a career every year. We haven't yet been able to determine where they went but we know that a proportion pursued careers that require the ability to drive an HGV as part of the job specification, such as scaffolders, removals operatives, crane operators, firemen, etc. The remainder left driving altogether.

It is worth pointing out that even if 50% of "leavers" use their HGV licence for their job role, that is £0.25 Billion spent by HGV test candidates over the past 10 years, from their hard-earned after-tax income, only to then abandon driving as a career. If we allow for the pass rate of just over 60%, we get over £1/3 Billion, squandered.

Either way, the real problem has been that we have been unable to grow the driver pool for over 10 years. We believe that this attrition was due to hauliers suppressing wages and due to poor working conditions.

Now that wages are rising we hope this will improve retention and attract back some of those who left the sector.

Regardless, working conditions, both in terms of the working patterns, hours worked and the working environment must be improved ... we all know that money isn't everything; you need to enjoy working as well as earning a decent income.

Join the conversation.

Tuesday 10th August 2021

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