It is no secret that our industry is experiencing a global shortage of trained HGV drivers. According to the latest research published in 2022 by the International Road Transport Union (IRU), in Europe, there is currently a shortage of 380,000 truck drivers, which equates to about 10% of demand and rising.
We understand the importance of nurturing a skilled workforce to sustain the industry’s growth and meet increasing demand. That’s why we actively support apprenticeships including the Commercial Drivers Apprenticeship to provide aspiring drivers with valuable training and hands-on experience.
In this blog, I will discuss why the HGV driver shortage has occurred and how can we use education among other initiatives to overcome this challenge.
What are the implications of the driver shortage?
A shortage of drivers means longer shipping times and higher costs, driver fatigue, driver turnover and recruitment challenges and more.
Why is there an HGV driver shortage?
Retirement age: At a global level, a large majority of truck drivers are coming close to the retirement age or have just retired, leaving a gap as we observe from one survey that just 7% of truck drivers are 25 or younger.
Gender gap: The industry also is predominantly male, with a very low proportion of women opting to make truck driving their career.
Safety concerns: Over the years, working conditions have been tough, with long hours and periods spent on the road, which can lead to driver fatigue. In a previous blog, “Reducing the Risk of Cargo Theft During Transport”, we uncovered some startling statistics surrounding the rate of truck theft.
Increased demand for delivery services: An after-effect of the pandemic is that consumers are shopping online more than in-store for convenience and access to goods from across the globe. An example of this is in the grocery industry, where we are seeing an upward trend in the number of people opting to order their weekly shop online and have it delivered to their front door. Statista.com says the number of users is “expected to amount to 233.40m users by 2027”. This increased demand puts pressure on the whole supply chain.
How do we overcome the driver shortage as an industry?
At ATC, we always listen to our team, clients and industry bodies to find ways to improve conditions for our drivers.
Safety: As we have spoken about previously, all of our trucks are state of the art with modern, spacious cabs and equipped with the latest technologies, including GPS tracking and anti-tamper sensors to deter any unwelcome visitors. We also have strict guidelines regarding rest periods and driver exams to maintain their utmost safety standards.
Industry regulations: At an industry level, the IRU, ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) and GSA (Global Shippers Alliance) have come together to develop a charter for improving the treatment of drivers at delivery sites. This charter details regulations that ensure drivers are met with adequate facilities, including lavatory, shower room, kitchens and social spaces upon arrival at a stop-off point.
Transport Planners: At ATC, our Transport Planners play an integral role for our drivers as they map out the safest route for them to travel and alert them to any potential issues/ alternative routes that they may have to take whilst also touching base and ensuring they have someone to talk to while in transit.
Education is power: The Transport Operations and Commercial Driving Apprenticeship offer an academic qualification, practical training, and work experience supporting a vibrant freight distribution career.
ATC proudly supports this apprenticeship and welcomes new apprentices to join us.
However, it’s not just about this 2-year course. It’s about the support our apprentices get and what comes after they graduate. At ATC, all of our apprentices are allowed to apply for a full-time position with a competitive salary, pension and other benefits.
We spoke earlier about the charter and the importance of creating a social environment for our drivers to enjoy while on the road. We have this in place in all of our locations to ensure they have a sense of community in their home away from home.
Our Leadership and Development Co-ordinator also matches all of our apprentices up with a mentor to look at career progression opportunities so that, as a team, we are all working towards something.
I truly believe that education is power, and combining it with practical work experience along with opportunities for career progression, on top of the remuneration benefits, is what will help to navigate our industry out of the driver shortage storm and attract the younger generation of both men and women to join with us.
Founder and Director