New report finds “worrying” number of young HGV drivers leaving profession

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The latest UK driver shortage report by the Driver Require Agency, which uses Q4 figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), has concluded that a worrying amount of HGV drivers under 30 are leaving the profession. However, Driver Require's research also concluded that the driver shortage crisis appears to have abated momentarily.

New report finds “worrying” number of young HGV drivers leaving profession
Photo: Wildlife Terry / Flickr / CC0 1.0

Readers may remember that the last Driver Require report had concluded that the driver shortage gap had narrowed to a certain extent.

The authors of the quarterly reports nonetheless say the latest Q4 statistics confirm that the HGV driver pool remains unchanged. This means the driver shortage remains at ‘severe’ status as opposed to ‘crisis’ status. The authors add that although “this would appear to be good news”, we “must not be complacent or make too broad assumptions”.

The area of most concern in the report was the amount of young drivers leaving the industry.

According to the research, since the first lockdown in March 2020, there has been 67% churn in the under-30 age group – a trend that worsened throughout 2021. The report states that the churn made up nearly 40% of the net churn of the whole workforce, which is said to be “extremely concerning” given that the UK is “relying on this younger contingent to replenish the aging workforce”.

Moreover, the number of HGV drivers under 30 working in the profession reduced by 28%, down 5,000 from 18,000 to 13,000. This is despite the fact 3,000 new drivers under the age of 35 began working in the industry in the same period.

Driver Require thus believes it is extremely important to improve retention of younger HGV drivers. Indeed, the agency says it is as a matter of urgency.

“While much has already been done to address the issues, the time has now come for the industry, representative bodies and government to unite and act decisively to address the specific reasons for poor retention, assign responsibility for specific measures and above all take action to improve the conditions and facilities for drivers,” reads the report.

When it comes to why this trend is becoming more visible, Driver Require listed the following reasons:

  • Money is not the primary motivator for this age group. Anti-social hours and weekend working are not attractive and they can earn a similar wage doing easier work
  • „Lack of access to work” was a major factor, i.e. obstacles to New Passes finding work as an HGV driver because of:
    – Lack of insurance cover
    – Many operators are unwilling to invest in training, coaching and developing New Passes
  • It is important to provide work experience as an HGV delivery driver to candidates before they commit to taking their test. Several days accompanying an HGV driver on their deliveries should allow candidates to get a real appreciation of the job
  • It was felt that „nurturing” and support after commencing work as an HGV delivery driver was important to help new entrants cope with the stresses and strains of the job, as well as to encourage them to seek alternative driving roles within the sector rather than seek an alternative career

The report also offered a forecast for the next few years, predicting that maximum HGV capacity won’t be reached until next year:

“In summary, the Think Tank concluded that supply chain and fleet inefficiencies are likely to continue to constrain the flow of goods into and throughout the UK and that it is unlikely that we will achieve maximum HGV delivery capacity until 2023. We can therefore expect the demand profile to remain largely flat for the second half of 2022.”

Commenting on the conclusions of the report, Driver Require said:

“While much has already been done to address the issues [causing the shortage], the time has now come for the industry, representative bodies and government to unite and act decisively to address the specific reasons for poor retention, assign responsibility for specific measures and above all take action to improve the conditions and facilities for drivers.”


Photo: Wildlife Terry / Flickr / CC0 1.0

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