What about those Christmas presents!

Photography by Nigel Green at www.truckpictures.co.uk
Photography by Nigel Green at www.truckpictures.co.ukWhat about those Christmas presents!

What about those Christmas presents!?

This month the Sky News channel reported that Christmas deliveries are under serious threat of being made because of a shortage of HGV drivers.

The report drew on warnings from the Freight Transport Association, which has warned that there are simply not enough drivers prepared to invest the amount it currently costs to obtain an HGV licence and then to adhere to the increasingly strict rules imposed by the EU on professional drivers.

The report echoes complaints from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) that the industry is failing to recruit new drivers in sufficient numbers. The RHA singles out the recently introduced requirement for 35 hours of approved training every five years for working drivers to retain their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).

The pressure on employing road hauliers is also increased through the need to find payments for such ongoing overheads as drivers’ wages, taxes on fuel and the need for HGV insurance

The statistics

A brief glimpse of the statistics revealed in the Sky News story may say it all. 40% of HGV drivers are over the age of 40 and only 1% are under the age of 25. The age profile seems to spell serious problems for the future of the industry.

It seems clear that the industry is failing to attract younger people into the driving profession, so storing up problems for the future.

The problem is not helped by the increasing difficulty of meeting not just national driving standards but also those that have been introduced throughout the EU. Sky News gave the example of one aspiring professional driver who had already spent some £2,500 trying to meet the relevant driving standards.

Supply and demand

There seems to be little shortage of demand for professionally qualified drivers. Haulage companies are reporting job openings for far greater numbers than there are qualified drivers – with the result that supply is failing to keep up with demand.


Neither the Freight Transport Association nor the Road Haulage Association seem to have solutions for what appears to be a critical shortage of professionally qualified drivers.

It may be easy to point the finger at the widening scope of European legislation, but the prospect of that changing, or being reined in at all significantly, seems to be remote indeed – whatever the pressure maintained by the industry’s various pressure groups.

Some may claim that the solution for filling the gaps in any labour market is simply a question of raising rates of pay. Within the UK, however, haulage employers are already facing what are probably some of the most difficult economic constraints in recent years and the capacity for increasing wage rates is slender.

The real test may come this Christmas, if a significant number of customers do indeed suffer the late delivery of presents that had been ordered well before time. Who knows, the reaction from a disappointed public may prove enough to fire up the industry itself and those with the authority to regulate it, to make whatever changes may be necessary.