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Driver Shortage Improves But More Action Needed

Our friends over at recruitment agency Driver Require have analysed recent ONS workforce data, and revealed that almost 30,000 HGV drivers returned to driving in Q3 of 2021.  This is a 40% recovery of the drop in driver numbers since the beginning of the pandemic, so we cannot afford to be complacent.

  • Most of the increase in driver numbers was in the over-45 age range, likely due to many of the 53,000 over-45s who left the sector in Q1 2021, returning for better wages and conditions.
  • Around 5,000 HGV drivers joined the under 35-year-old workforce, which suggests that the increased testing capacity and throughput seems to be working.
  • Just over 5,000 EU nationals returned to driving HGV for a living, most of whom would have been below the age of 45.

The data (summarised above) implies a net addition of approximately 10,000 HGV drivers below the age of 45, yet this age group only increased by a little over 1,000.  Therefore, some 9,000 HGV drivers left from the under-45-year-old group, suggesting that retention issues have not yet been resolved.  The exodus of under-45s effectively negates the addition of new drivers.

Kieran Smith, CEO at Driver Require said: “We are optimistic that we have reached a turning point in the UK’s HGV driver shortage crisis and that the shortage is moving to ‘severe’ rather than ‘crisis’ levels.  However, despite rising wages, churn is still high.  Urgent and sustained action is needed to address the poor employment conditions and the lack of adequate quality secure HGV parking facilities throughout the UK. Only this will prevent continued churn of HGV drivers out of the sector due to disillusionment with the poor-quality working environment.”

Experts in this sector, Driver Require, have produced a full report detailing their analysis and it’s well worth a read.

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