Doing nothing is no longer an option

Recent research by Logistics UK revealed that 29% of members surveyed are unable to fill their HGV driver vacancies. A further 14.5% expect a delay in filling HGV driver vacancies and 37% are unable to fill fitter mechanic and technician roles.

The line is similar in the Institute, as we continue to receive evidence and increased concerns from our members around the impact of the driver shortage, particularly in the logistics sector. While this is not a new conversation, with the Institute and the sector highlighting this issue for several years now, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are heading towards major supply chain disruptions across the nation.

As a result of Covid-19, the UK’s exit from the EU, and recent IR35 changes, we are, sadly, in a perfect storm. In the last year alone, indications are that one-third of the EU nationals working as HGV and van drivers have returned to their home nations due to a combination of the EU exit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The impact of this driver shortage is already evident, as food supplies are showing signs of disruption. Several large food retailers, operators and suppliers have now made their concerns public, and over the last weeks there have been frequent stories in the media of fresh produce being destroyed as it has failed to reach it’s required destination.

The issue also trickles down and has cost implications, which are being felt by freight customers. The average operating margin for road hauliers is 1.4% (decreasing from 4% in 2016). While input costs across all indicators have increased for the third year running, repair and maintenance, wage rates and vehicle asset costs saw the highest rises.

So, what can be done? While there is no single measure that can solve the crisis. Following meetings with ministers from the Department of Transport (DFT) and the Department of Work and Pensions in June, CILT and Logistics UK have written to the DfT calling for a number of short and medium-term measures to be rolled out.


In the short term, these include increasing DVSA capacity to catch up with the backlog of tests, immigration reform and a new industry-led and government backed ‘Get back to driving’ initiative to encourage those who left the sector to return to driving. In the medium term, we are recommending exploring initiatives such as additional lorry parking spaces and planning regulations, National Skills Fund reform, apprenticeship reform and creative ideas such as a Year of Logistics, modelled on the recent success of the Year of Engineering initiative.

Doing nothing is no longer an option, so I am also calling on you, our members, to offer your own creative and strategic ideas to help overcome this crisis. As your Institute we continue to engage with the government and the wider industry to address this crisis and explore innovative ways to solve it.


Kevin Richardson FCILT

Chief Executive,


Luckily, we have apprenticeships available to help reduce this shortage. Apprenticeships allow the individual to learn on the job so; getting that valuable industrial experience whilst being supported by industry experienced drivers and instructors. Apprenticeships are vital for replenishing the industry with knowledgeable andĀ  fully qualified individuals. It also benefits companies massively, as it allows them to secure future prospects and mold them into the perfect employee for their business and it’s culture.

A few other benefits include:

  • Boosting Productivity and Competitiveness
  • Training Apprentices, Building Skills and Keeping Staff
  • Cost-Effective Training

Here at trans plantĀ  mastertrain we pride ourselves on delivering apprenticeships to the highest degree- with experienced drivers and instructors, to support the apprentice through their learning and development of skills. We hope to support the growth of the LGV/HGV community and do our part wherever we can.

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