Amid a significant shortage of lorry drivers, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been informed that providing the correct skills and training as well as instating temporary visas will support the recruitment of HGV drivers.
Following an escalating issue of a lack of lorry drivers, two business groups have argued that temporary work visas for EU drivers and reforming the National Skills Fund could be key to alleviating the problem.
Writing to the Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng, Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium stated that the shortage of HGV drivers is only set to worsen as the UK comes out of the summer months.
The two lobby groups explained that retail and logistics industries are taking proactive measures to address the driver shortage challenge.
This includes increasing pay rates with some paying up to a quarter more than base pay, offering bonuses such as M&S which offered HGV drivers a £2000 sign on bonus, and implementing internal training schemes.
However, it warned that the Government needed to take immediate action to support supply chains, warning that the current shortfall of roughly 90,000 HGV drivers is placing “unsustainable pressure” on retailers and their supply chains.
As such, the letter calls for key changes to be made including reviewing its decision not to grant temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU. It argued that, by permitting this, this could supplement the domestic HGV workforce in the short-term while new drivers become trained and qualified.
This comes after changes to the immigration system following Brexit means HGV drivers from the EU are not eligible for skilled workers visas.
In addition, the two groups also urged the Government to reform the National Skills Fund to fund HGV driver training and inject flexibility into the Apprenticeship Levy.
The BRC’s Chief Executive, Mr. Wells stated:
Logistics UK and BRC need BEIS to work with us to ensure the government provides a clear road map and tangible support for industry to ensure that our stores can continue to provide what the country needs every day.
However, a spokesperson for the Government responded to these claims:
The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.
We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of tests able to be conducted.
We have also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but these must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.