While a shortage has been brewing for a while throughout the supply chain, it’s become a full-blown disaster. This shortage is now impacting a lot of industries and it needs to be addressed. The shortage is leaving stores shelves empty and it’s expediting shortages around the country.
There is currently an HGV driver shortage and it’s become a widespread problem. While there are different theories as to why this shortage exists, recently the truth has been discovered.
While everyone involved has their takes for what’s causing it and some of the best solutions, there isn’t enough evidence to substantiate all of the claims. The result of this has been increased turbulence among both the industry and the government.
However, The Grocer uncovered exclusive data that shows the real story behind the shortage. Along with the data, it uncovers a potential solution.
One thing that should be noted beforehand is that this is not a new problem. This is not even close to being a new problem. It existed even before Covid or even before Brexit. Before Covid, the country was short some 76,000 drivers according to Logistics UK. If you are someone with driving experience then you may be able to then you might be able to help. However, you will need to have the relevant HGV training which will include an HGV theory test.
One of the biggest issues is the fact that demand was growing and outpacing supply. The number of drivers continued to remain steady at 300,000 while demand kept increasing according to figures from ONS. The only area that experienced any kind of significant growth was EU drivers who grew from 10,000 to 45,000 in only 7 years.
This ended up making European drivers much more vital. It helped top up the workforce and provide an element of elasticity when demand was peaking. However, having to rely on labour from overseas has been a big concern among those in the country. MPs urged the transportation industry to minimise the dependence on foreign drivers in July of 2016.
The situation ended up coming to fruition during the pandemic brought on by the virus when there was a mass exodus of drivers flooding out of the UK workforce. The numbers show that the total number of drivers decreased from 304,000 to 235,000 in a single year. This represented a total loss of 69,000 drivers. According to Logistics UK, we are currently around 90,000 short of where we should be.
Where have they done and can they be brought back?
Losing so many EU drivers is the main factor in the shortage for the logistics and food industries. As many as 20 trade bodies and businesses sent a letter to the Prime Minister and asked the government to take immediate action based on what they noted were the key causes of the HGV shortage.