Can EU workers solve the heavy goods vehicle driver crisis?

The report from the Driver Require Think Tank has said the UK should look at attracting some of the 330,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV)  licence holders, of whom 235,000 are below the age of 45, back into driving for a living. 

Last month the heads of Logistics UK and the British Retail Consortium said the Government needed to take immediate steps​ to solve the HGV driver shortage and ease the unsustainable pressure placed on supply chains. 

The shortfall of drivers is estimated to stand at 100,000 drivers by the Road Haulage Association. However, according to the Driver Require Think Tank report the actual shortfall is at the most 70,000 and probably lower. 

It has dismissed claims that an exodus of EU drivers caused the shortage, claiming these drivers only account for 18% of the required staff.

It added that the pandemic led to 70,000 people leaving the workforce, bringing numbers from 300,000 pre-pandemic to 230,000. Of these only 12,500 were EU nationals, most of whom it believes were under the age of 45. 

“We believe the 55,000, predominantly British, over-45s left mainly in Q1 2021 when demand fell off. During this period many were self-isolating or furloughed and may have realised they preferred other options to driving for a living,” it said. 

The report added that it did not believe that allowing in EU workers would solve the crisis but did agree that doubling the capacity for training capacity would work in the immediate term. 

Meanwhile, IPP, the poolers of pallets and boxes, has said the industry must continue to collaborate to overcome the driver shortage.