Easing skills shortage issues can be achieved through the use of season visas and funded training, says Logistics UK.

 

The industry body is urging the government to introduce the visa for European HGV drivers.

As a result, the organisation says, pressure will be eased on the driver shortage as well as the 45,000 outstanding driver tests.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, understandably, all driving tests were suspended,” explains David Wells, chief executive, Logistics UK.

“At the same time, 79,000 European logistics workers returned to their home countries.

Therefore, he argued, haulage firms were struggling to recruit new drivers and the situation is likely to get worse over the summer. 

“The government recently granted temporary visa status for agricultural workers,” added Wells.

Therefore, important crops could be picked and made available for UK consumers.

“However, without temporary visa status for the drivers to move this food to where it is needed, the supply chain will break down.”

Meanwhile, Wells said drivers needed to be available now, due to the backlog of tests.

“There is a very real risk to the availability of the food and other vital items,” he warned.

Specifically, DVSA estimates it can undertake 118,000 HGV driver tests in the remainder of 2021. 

Therefore, it will take months to catch up on the existing backlog of outstanding examinations.

Furthermore, the industry needs a boost from government to get new recruits into the market, easing skills shortage issues.

“Even before the loss of our EU workers, logistics was suffering from a chronic shortage of drivers,” he said. 

“It takes time and money to train new recruits to be ready to enter our highly regulated industry.” 

Concluding, Wells said: “We need government to prioritise the implementation of funded training to open the industry up to as many people as possible.”

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