Hauliers rev up search for HGV drivers with launch of national recruitment roadshow in Peterborough

Hauliers ramped up their campaign to ease the HGV driver shortage that is threatening empty shop shelves at Christmas with the launch in Peterborough of a national recruitment roadshow.

By Paul Grinnell
Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:55 pm

The move comes as the logistics industry comes under growing pressure from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sort out the staffing crisis.

It is estimated the UK has a shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, which has been blamed for fuel shortages at petrol stations and a lack of food supplies to some supermarkets and shops.

Managers of haulage companies and representatives of the industry’s spokesbody, the Road Haulage Association, launched the national roadshow in Cathedral Square with a truck load of displays detailing the benefits of being an HGV driver plus a shining example of the latest innovation in truck design.

Martin Dean of the Road Haulage Association.

It comes ahead of National Lorry Week (October 25- 31) which aims to recruit more drivers and, by going into schools and colleges and the wider community, to change the perception of the logistics industry, which is worth £124 billion to the UK economy with 2.5 million staff.

Martin Dean, key account manager for the Road Haulage Association, based in Peterborough, said: “It’s a realistic goal to make up the shortfall.

“But it is a big number and is the result of a perfect storm of Brexit, Covid-19 and tax changes.

He said: “The shortfall is largely made up of East Europeans who have gone back to their country of origin.

Ashley Holland, commercial manager of FreshLinc

But added: “The industry does need to shoulder a degree of responsibility for the crisis because we have under-invested over recent years.

“We have not really invested in our talent of the future.

“That has very much changed now.

“We appreciate we have to recruit our own drivers and that’s what we are doing.

“Wages have increased very significantly over recent months with drivers able to earn £30,000 to £60,000 a year.

“But these costs will have to translate down into the supply chain and to the consumer so I fully expect prices to increase.”

Mr Dean said the industry was innovating all the time with new HGVs, green energy, gas powered trucks, drone deliveries and autonomous vehicles.

He said: “So we have been doing what the Government has asked us to do.

“The crisis is not all our fault.

“There has also been an under-investment in our sector by other businesses and the Government.

“For instance, the facilities for drivers - from some service stations to some delivery points - are renown for being inadequate at best.

“So we need to do our piece but we need Government to do its piece to support us as well.”

Ashley Holland, commercial manager for Spalding-based haulage firm FreshLinc which is short of 100 drivers, said: “Being short of drivers does make a big difference to us.

“Our costs increase, there are more demand pressures and we lose flexibility.

He added: “For job security and satisfaction, people should join the logistics industry.

“Pay has increased across the sector and rightfully so - people don’t appreciate that being a lorry drivers can involve spending 60 hours a week away from family.

He added: “But 100 per cent conditions could be better - some motorway services are good but some are bad, places we deliver to could improve facilities.”