The Road Haulage Association stated that 45,000 HGV drivers were due to retire by 2016 – with no figure coming close to replacing them.

This week the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported that 59 percent of graduates in the UK are in “non-graduate” roles, as graduate supply grows faster than jobs are created in industries including professional services. As graduate supply outstrips white-collar vacancies, the UK is crying out for skilled industrial workers, says a leading sector careers expert.

Beatrice Bartlay, a recruiter for the manufacturing and logistics sectors, warns that a collapse could be imminent as fewer people choose careers in skilled industries. Bartlay, who is Founder and MD of specialist staffing agency 2B Interface, claims that the UK’s blue collar industries – including manufacturing, joinery, metalwork, logistics and construction – are having to source employees from a rapidly shrinking talent pool.

With GCSE results out last week and millions of school leavers looking for a career path, she says that now is the time for businesses and the government to work together to achieve the 3 million target for apprenticeship creation by 2020, and get more people into skilled positions.

Bartlay said: “Manufacturing is a case in point because it is currently enjoying a resurgence in volumes of higher value contracts. As well as this, output is currently growing and expected to grow into the next quarter. Manufacturing is the key to the UK’s continual economic growth, but traditional and niche skills in this sector are becoming more limited every day. The whole supply chain is suffering; from welders to HGV drivers – which ultimately will have an impact on white-collar businesses. After all, how are you going to sit at your nice desk with nobody to make and transport it?”

Bartlay’s statement echoes recent reports that specific job roles are getting harder to fill as more and more young people choose academia over skilled manual labour. In August 2015, four major logistics trade bodies announced a collaboration to promote careers in HGV operation, particularly to attract women, ethnic minorities and school leavers to the industry. The Road Haulage Association, part of the consortium, stated that 45,000 HGV drivers were due to retire by 2016 – with no figure coming close to replacing them.

Andrew Kunman, Head of Logistics Division at 2B Interface, added: “The haulage industry is critical to our daily lives, and like manufacturing offers lucrative and rewarding job opportunities including the chance to move up within the industry, into white collar work. It’s a chance to make a contribution, train in a sector where your talent is extremely valuable to a lot of Blue-chip firms, and create opportunities for the rest of your career.”

Bartlay concluded: “In my mind there is no doubt the whole jobs market is in the early stages of decay – that is unless the government and industry does more to encourage British workers – experienced and young – into the manufacturing supply chain. Apprenticeships are categorically important to this mission, and the government’s recent pledge to create three million more apprenticeships – many of which will be in skilled manual positions – is ambitious, yet with the right change of mindset could really help to turn this challenge around.”