A report released by Logistics UK (formally the Freight Transport Association) has highlighted the impact that Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the transport industry’s ongoing skills shortage.

The Skills and Employment Report 2020 has looked in detail at the current situation and is urging all parties to help reverse the decline in drivers and skilled workers in the HGV sector.

To address the skills shortage, Logistics UK is asking for interest-free loans or grants that could support driver training for those wishing to get their HGV license and also reform on the Apprenticeship Levy. The national organisation is also calling for more action on cancelled HGV driver tests – due to the pandemic – and a greater emphasis on attracting people into the trucking industry.  

The report states that Q2 2020 saw a 6.7% reduction of drivers (down 20,500) compared with the same quarter in 2019. In the same period, the number of truck drivers from the EU fell by 36.3% (down 14,275), while there were 4,000 fewer UK nationals registered as drivers.

“Structural issues”

“The combined forces of Brexit and COVID-19 have exposed the structural issues with the logistics labour market,” said Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy at Logistics UK. Our report reveals that 79,000 members of the workforce – EU workers – have left the country in the past 12 months, leaving a significant skills gap. 

“With a total shortage of 76,000 HGV drivers alone, Logistics UK is urging the government to take immediate action to address the long-term structural issues with the labour market,” she added.

In other Logistics UK news, the decision by DfT and Kent County Council to ban drivers from taking all rest periods – other than the 45 minutes break – in seven Kent boroughs has been criticised.

“Logistics UK is very frustrated the Department for Transport (DfT) and Kent County Council (KCC) have failed to consider the welfare of lorry drivers in this decision,” said Heidi Skinner, policy manager for the South, Logistics UK. “Access to places to rest is of paramount importance to the workers responsible for keeping goods moving across the UK and further afield; it is also required to meet their legally required rest periods under the drivers’ hours regulation.”