Addressing the issue of driver shortage in the freight industry was at the top of the agenda during a meeting between the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Secretary of State for Transport last week.
Patrick McLoughlin told FTA’s chief executive – David Wells that the freight sector is a critical driver of growth in the economy and that he was committed to ensuring its continued success. He also outlined the efforts being made by the Government in speeding up HGV driver medical checks as part of the effort to increase the availability of qualified drivers.
Following the meeting, Wells said: "FTA is delighted to see that Secretary of State recognises the importance of our sector and that we were able to discuss and highlight the ways in which industry and Government can work in partnership to solve the driver shortage problem."
FTA also took the opportunity to discuss options for funding support for driver training, giving greater visibility of HGV driving school pass rates and ways in which government can improve roadside facilities for HGV drivers.
Wells added: "We were pleased to be able to discuss the options being considered to improve Operation Stack, the huge new investments in roads (RIS1) and finally we encouraged the Minister to resist proposals for changes to vehicle design without evidence of their ability to improve to road user safety.”
The current shortage of 45,000 HGV drivers in the UK is a serious issue for the freight and logistics industry, and FTA has long campaigned with its members to recruit people into the sector. As part of its work to combat the problem, the Association is once again staging a Skills Summit on 17 March to help employers in the logistics industry tackle the problem of recruiting and retaining staff.
The FTA Logistics Skills Summit - Attract, Recruit, Retain – sponsored by DAF Trucks, will be held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and is a free to attend event with tickets offered on a first come, first served basis. The event will also look at attracting would-be technicians and engineers in to the industry, and will look at how to improve the public perception of logistics and make it a desirable place to work.