HGV Driver shortage stabilising, aided by reduction in waiting time for HGV driver tests

The number of HGV drivers in the workforce fell by 49,000 in Q4 2021 according to new analysis of the latest ONS statistics published on the 16th February 2022. Whilst this isn’t at first glance great news for the HGV Driver shortage in the UK, the figures are at least stabilising somewhat.

Some positive news is that the number of driving tests are increasing as a result of greater capacity provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), and therefore the number of HGV drivers in the marketplace appears to be stabilising.

The HGV driver shortage has been a widely reported issue in recent months, but this shortage has long existed. Brexit and COVID-19 have exacerbated a pre-existing retention issue due to low wages and substandard working conditions. Last July, the Government announced a package of measures to support the road haulage industry.

Wages of HGV drivers have also seen some stellar growth, with some leading retailers such as Tesco, John Lewis and Aldi giving significant pay rises to their HGV drivers and attractive sign on bonuses to recruit new drivers.

Many new HGV drivers had been put off with the long waiting list to take a vocational HGV test, choosing other careers with a quicker and easier starting point, this problem manifested with lockdowns and then restrictions, making a bad problem even worse.

The data in the report revealed this month shows that the DVSA is making progress in catching up on the testing backlog which grew out of the restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to figures, 27,144 HGV vocational tests were undertaken in Q4 2021, representing a 53.5% increase compared with Q4 2019.

National statistics released this week show that the number of HGV drivers in the workforce continues to fall, but this is stabilising. There was a decrease of 49,000 drivers in Q4 2021, compared to Q4 2019, which is broadly the same as Q3 2021, but significantly less than the fall in the previous quarter.