A new report from Logistics UK, the business group representing the industry that is at the heart of the UK’s economy, has highlighted the severe impact Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the sector’s underlying skills shortage.
Logistics UK’s Skills and Employment Report 2020 was launched in December as the organisation called for interest-free loans or grants to support HGV driver training, Apprenticeship Levy reform, and an urgent catch-up of HGV driver tests cancelled due to COVID restrictions, to attract new recruits into the sector and ensure that goods and services can continue to move freely.
Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK, comments: “The combined forces of Brexit and COVID-19 have exposed the structural issues with the logistics labour market, with Logistics UK’s Skills and Employment Report 2020 revealing that 79,000 members of the workforce – EU workers – have left the country in the past 12 months, leaving a significant skills gap. With a total shortage of 76,000 HGV drivers alone, Logistics UK is urging the government to take immediate action to address the long-term structural issues with the labour market to enable UK workers to step in and fill these vacancies to ensure the UK can keep trading.
“Measures advised by Logistics UK include funding to assist with the high costs of driver qualifications through interest-free loans or grants, reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy so businesses can unlock funding, and improvements to driver facilities to make the career more attractive. In addition, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) must overturn its decision to halt all HGV driving tests during the COVID-19 pandemic. The time for talk is over: the government must act now on these issues to secure the future of logistics.”
According to the report, there were 20,500 fewer HGV drivers in Q2 2020, which is a reduction of 6.7% year-on-year; the number of EU HGV drivers fell by 14,275 (36.3%), and there was a drop of 4,000 (1.5%) in UK nationals who are HGV drivers.