Lorry Driver Shortage: Can We Save Christmas?
No doubt you have already heard of the Driver Shortage, but what does it mean for the public?
As High Street and online retailers are finding it tough to restock and deliver items on time, the public could find their stockings a little light this Christmas. Moreover, if this problem persists, the economy will feel the knock-on effects ultimately causing lighter pockets too!
As our population grows, demands for products over retailing peak periods, such as Christmas, are increasing. The main problem is that the average age of a truck driver is 59 years old, with 16% of all drivers retiring over the next 5 years. Furthermore young people are not interested in joining the sector as many believe that career prospects in Logistics are lacking.
So what can we do to put this problem in reverse and save Christmas?
Attract those that have recently left
Apart from providing a short-term solution to the driver shortage, giving experienced drivers the opportunity to train and become the future trainers, mentors and examiners will be invaluable to new drivers and will improve retention within the industry.
Support those currently seeking work
In some areas of the UK, there are 15 positions being advertised for every driver seeking a job.
To support those that are currently unemployed, the UK Government will fund license acquisition in whole or in part. Currently, programmes are being supported across the North West, West Midlands and East Midlands for both large and SME Hauliers.
However, with an improving economy and a falling unemployment register for the over 25s, other solutions aimed at attracting young talent to the sector must be implemented.
Engage with School Leavers and NEETs
Not attending University is becoming a preferred choice for many school leavers. Benefits include: Earning a wage, no student loan and the opportunity to learn on the job through Traineeships and Apprenticeships.
Longer term, strategic relationships between schools/academies and Logistics sector employers are key.
We need to inspire the next generation and provide them with a bird’s eye view of the sector.
The Sir Frank Whittle Studio School in Lutterworth, Leicestershire provides an excellent example of the possibilities. Having built strong relationships with Logistics employers at Magna Park, they offer both sector based training and work experience to equip their students for work in the local area.
Warehouse to Wheels
A number of employers run Warehouse to Wheels schemes. The main benefit to the employers is that they invest in employees that have a proven track record in the organisation. Some things need to be addressed to make this a more popular route to licensure. These include:
- Informing staff that there is an option to join the Warehouse to Wheels Scheme
- Securing Government funding to support the training or expanding internal training budgets.
Attract new talent to the sector
It is vital to attract new talent and encourage the current workforce to remain in the sector. One effective solution for employers is to ‘map out’ what progression looks like in their organisation and provide a visible image to all employees to inspire, encourage and retain talent.
Progression routes exist in some organisations and they are well known to their employees. However in some businesses they are not so clear. Examples of routes available to staff include driving, operations, administration, HR and management roles.
It’s true. Not all employees want to progress into senior roles. Many drivers remain in their job role because they enjoy the challenges and are excellent at what they do. There are other opportunities to train as a driver, becoming specialist in such areas as safe and fuel-efficient driving (SaFED) and transporting dangerous goods (ADR), and/or mentoring new drivers that enter the sector.
I’m afraid neither Santa nor the sector will be able to fix the driver shortage problem for this Christmas! However, by implementing the options above we’ll make a positive impact on the number of lorry drivers available in the New Year and onwards to 2020.
Two things are certain though:
- We have to act now
- Mapping out progression in the Logistics sector is the key to attracting new talent!
From everyone at Train Together, have a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!