Concerns continue to grow over shortage of skilled HGV drivers

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The freight and logistics sector is still suffering a shortage of skilled drivers, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA)’s July Quarterly Transport Activity Survey (QTAS).

The survey, which asked the opinions of 6,000 freight and logistics businesses in the FTA’s membership, showed that almost one-third of respondents were experiencing long delays in recruiting HGV drivers.

As the sector is reliant on recruiting skilled HGV drivers from abroad, and with the ongoing uncertainty over workers’ status as Brexit negotiations unfold, members are keen for clarification on what the situation will be once the UK exits the EU.

Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy at FTA, said: “At a time when British businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on an efficient supply chain, the lack of qualified drivers available to work could soon become cause for concern.

“And with just over 57% of respondents to QTAS also anticipating a shortage of HGV drivers moving into the second half of 2017, it is clear that the industry needs a recruitment boost to overcome the potential issues which this could cause in the long term to Britain’s ongoing profitability.”

International trade through UK-based hauliers also proved less buoyant than anticipated in April, and could reflect the low levels of growth in the overall economy in the second quarter of the year.

Respondents reported weaker growth in domestic road freight activity levels in Q1 2017 compared to the previous quarter. 

The outturn growth in activity reported was lower than the expected level of growth anticipated in the April 2017 QTAS report, reflecting the muted growth in the UK economy during the period.

However, the survey did give cause for cautious optimism about domestic logistics operations, with most industrial sectors and most regions indicating reasonable levels of growth in Q2 2017, and the majority reporting they expect strong growth in activity levels in Q3 2017.

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