Freight industry welcomes driver skills probe

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Transport Select Committee plans to probe the driver shortage have been welcomed by the industry
Transport Select Committee plans to probe the driver shortage have been welcomed by the industry

Related tags: Transport, Large goods vehicle

The freight industry has welcomed plans to probe the lack of professional drivers in the haulage sector, unveiled by Parliament’s Transport Select Committee.

The inquiry will investigate what action the government has taken to address concerns about the lack of skilled drivers in the road haulage sector and to assess the effectiveness of its response.

Responding to the investigation, launched last Friday (September 11), the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said it had long warned the freight industry was facing a long-term challenge to attract and recruit sufficient people to professional driving and that the skills shortage had now reached crisis point. 

FTA chief executive David Wells said: “The FTA is delighted that the Transport Committee is going to investigate the lack of skilled drivers, as this has been an important issue for our members who have been concerned about this for some time.

‘Concerned for some time’

“In our recent conversations with MPs ​[Members of Parliament], we have emphasised the real problems the logistics sector is having in attracting new recruits and suggested that government and the industry need to work together to find solutions which enable us to keep delivering the goods for the UK economy.”

The Transport Committee said it wanted to test key points relating to the Department of Transport‘s policy, while acknowledging several government departments shared responsibility for policy-making in the haulage sector.

Among the topics the committee wanted to test were: the role of government in supporting recruitment and encouraging a diverse workforce for the road haulage industry and the quality of daytime and overnight facilities for road freight drivers. (See list below).

Supporting recruitment

The Transport Committee welcomed submissions by Monday October 19 2015.

Meanwhile, FoodManufacture.co.uk revealed in May that retailers were understood to be taking measures to address a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, having previously denied that the deficit could potentially cripple the perishable food sector.

Some supermarkets were already publicly putting systems in place​ to safeguard against the shortfall, said a source close to the sector. “The Co-­operative, for example, announced that it was looking to avoid a potential national shortage of van and lorry drivers by establishing a new training programme for more than 100 staff,” ​said the source.

Transport Committee’s inquiry hit list

  • The extent to which statistics reflect the experience of road haulage companies regarding the shortage of a skilled workforce in the road haulage sector
  • The role of government in supporting recruitment, and encouraging a diverse workforce, for the road haulage industry
  • The role of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence qualification in improving the professionalism and safety of drivers from the UK and abroad on UK roads
  • Aspects of current government policy which may deter new entrants to the workforce, such as proposals to ban daytime deliveries in cities
  • The quality of daytime and overnight facilities for road freight drivers

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