The government must urgently review the Apprenticeship Levy and do more to prevent a severe shortage of logistics workers post-Brexit, according to new warnings issued by the FTA and RHA
(Road Haulage Association).

With the anniversary of the Levy taking place on April 6, many businesses are still unable to utilise its funding to put more skilled workers into the freight industry.

This is despite the logistics sector contributing more than £100 million to the central funding pot.

Sally Gilson, FTA’s head of skills, said the problem is worsened by a lack of suitable apprenticeship standards: “The logistics industry… is facing a ticking time bomb with the ever-increasing shortage of skilled workers.”

“There are currently 52,000 vacancies for HGVs drivers alone, and with the prospect of losing access to vital EU workers, the shortage could reach catastrophic levels.”

“From HGV drivers to warehouse staff, the UK economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce – businesses would come grinding to a halt and Britain would cease trading.”

Since April 2017, businesses with annual payrolls of more than £3m must pay 0.5 per cent of their wage bill to the Apprentice Levy. Businesses can then use their levy funds for apprenticeship training.

However, logistics apprenticeships are either still to be approved after over two years in development, or are in desperate need of amending to make them fit for purpose, said FTA.

The RHA issued a similar warning, citing a Transport Select Committee inquiry in 2016 which concluded the driver shortage was hitting haulage hard – but the Association has been frustrated with the government’s lack of progress as the problem has worsened.

“The Levy is supposed to help operators, but our members tell us it’s a bureaucratic nightmare – so we need to understand what the problems are and press the government into action to resolve them,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett.

He also called on the government to support the RHA’s Road to Logistics initiative, which aims to attract ex-offenders, former military personnel, the long-term unemployed and women among other diverse groups into the sector.