At the time of writing, the HGV driver shortage is featuring heavily in the national press. Now, let’s be clear, this is not a new subject of discussion: the topic of HGV driver shortages has been around for many years, but in these unusual times it appears the demand for HGV drivers is greater than ever.
Is there an HGV driver shortage?
In a word, yes. What is not clear however is how big the problem is. In recent years the number of HGV driver vacancies has been quoted around the 50,000 mark. In 2021, the number has more often been quoted at or near to 100,000.
One of the benefits of the HGV driver shortage is wages are creeping up, as companies compete with each other to acquire staff. Furthermore, new drivers are finding it easier and easier to find work.
Why is there a shortage of HGV drivers?
Now, this is the ultimate question, the answer to which will depend on whom you ask. In reality, the HGV driver shortage is unlikely to be caused by one factor alone. It is most likely to be a combination of three things:
The deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme was 30th June 2021, which means after that date EU nationals who had not applied to become resident in the UK would have returned to their home country. A large proportion of UK based HGV drivers were from EU countries, which would have made a sizeable dent in the number of drivers available to work here.
With the closure of driving test centres for much of 2020, the industry’s supply of new drivers completely dried up for a while. Also, the so-called ‘pingdemic’ has caused staff shortages across all sectors. Although (hopefully) a temporary issue, right now lots of drivers are isolating at any one time, further exacerbating the shortage.
The average age of UK HGV drivers is approximately 55, with unusually low numbers of young drivers joining the sector. When the number of drivers retiring outweighs the number joining the industry, the HGV driver shortage grows.
How do we tackle the problem?
The simplest answer is: recruit more new drivers into the industry. One of the benefits of the HGV driver shortage is wages are creeping up, as companies compete with each other to acquire staff. Furthermore, new drivers are finding it easier and easier to find work. Traditionally newly qualified HGV drivers would find a ‘catch-22’ situation, being unable to find work without experience, and unable to get experience without work. With the HGV driver shortage, companies have been forced to relax their experience requirements.
How do I become an HGV driver?
Our number piece of advice is to be very careful when booking an HGV training course. Never sign up for a course over the phone. Go and visit a local training school and ask questions in person. That way you can be sure you’re not getting caught out. Below are some guides to help you make informed decisions about HGV training. We strongly recommend you read these before making any financial decisions about becoming an HGV driver.