The Industry Prepares for Driver and Mechanic Shortages

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A driver shortage in the haulage work industry is a concern that has been looming for a number of years. The FTA recently released its 2019 Logistics Report and has made a prediction that as well as drivers, mechanics, technicians and fitters will also be in short supply in the coming years – with up to 50% of jobs perhaps not being filled.

The Problem

It’s clear that haulage workers and others in the logistics industry play a vital role when it comes to keeping the country on the move, so technician, mechanic and HGV driver shortages would definitely have a significant effect on the UK economy. Sally Gibson, Head of Skills Campaigns at FTA, stated that “the logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, employing more than 2.7 million people…the economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce”.

Why Is There a Shortage?

Experts say that this quickly escalating labour shortage is mostly due to lack of experience or required skills in those that would be prepared to take on the roles. This is partly because the sector is not advertising their vacancies enough among the younger generation – an aging workforce is slowly making the industry more aware of their diminishing number of drivers and mechanics. Shifting migration patterns in response to Brexit have also had an impact.

These factors have together let to a concern that soon there will not be enough workers to sustain a well-engineered haulage workforce.

The Need for Mechanics

While haulage workers play a huge role in the industry, mechanics and technicians are just as important when it comes to keeping the sector running smoothly. Head of automotive at the FTA, Lawrie Alford, claimed that “not enough secondary school and college leavers are drawn to technician apprenticeships; we must work together to promote the benefits of this career”.

Alford also explains how the shortage could affect the industry. With around six million vehicle inspections taking place each year, a shortage of workers would result in longer waiting times for vehicle inspections and repairs, eventually causing some vehicles on the roads to be deemed unsafe – yet unable to be repaired quickly enough.

Action Needed

As of now, the main priority for the government will be developing younger people’s interest in these driver, mechanic and technician roles. Well-paid apprenticeship schemes with quality training and other opportunities to get involved are sure to have a positive impact on college and university students – hopefully including those with an interest in the logistics sector.

Combating worker shortages won’t be easy, but with the help of funding and qualified instructors, industry experts hope the younger generation will get behind the sector and help it continue its vital role in the country’s economy.

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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