Logistics businesses anticipate that 15% of their current HGV driver vacancies will not be filled due to the nationwide skills shortage, according to a report launched this month.
The 2019 Logistics Report, launched by FTA in partnership with Santander Corporate and Commercial, polled the opinions of more than 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally, to provide industry insight into the latest political and economic developments.
Sally Gilson, head of skills campaigns at FTA, the organisation representing the interests of the logistics sector, said: “The nationwide shortage of skilled logistics staff continues to blight the sector.
“Respondents to FTA’s 2019 Logistics Report anticipate 15% of current vacancies for HGV drivers will not be filled and for a further 36% of current vacancies, they anticipate a long delay to find the right candidate.
“And it is not just HGV drivers: significant shortfalls of van drivers, warehouse staff, fitters, technicians and mechanics are also anticipated over the next 12 months.”
Gilson continued: “The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, employing more than 2.7 million people and contributing £124 billion gross value added (GVA).
“From HGV drivers to warehouse staff, the UK economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce – businesses would come grinding to a halt and Britain would cease trading.
“An aging workforce, competition for skilled staff, and shifting migration patterns – in part in response to Brexit – mean we are facing serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of labour for key logistics roles.
“After all, the average age of a HGV driver is 48 years, as found in the survey, and 13% of HGV drivers working in the UK are EU nationals; their continued residency is not guaranteed post-Brexit.”
To tackle the skills shortage, FTA is campaigning for unused Apprenticeship Levy funds to be utilised for more flexible training programmes and for amends to the Future Immigration White Paper, so non-UK logistics workers are welcomed in the UK, both before and after Brexit.
The report also found that UK’s global competitiveness has dropped significantly and investment in the UK’s transport and logistics infrastructure is urgently required to boost its attractiveness to international investors.
Furthermore, the survey indicated that the uncertainties surrounding Brexit are taking their toll on the logistics industry; 61% of respondents say this uncertainty is a barrier to the growth of their businesses internationally.
John Simkins, head of transport and logistics, Santander Corporate and Commercial, said: “Uncertainty has been the inevitable reality for UK businesses over the last year, especially for those operating in transport and logistics.
“In order that UK businesses can continue their operations with as little disruption as possible, it is vital that we work closely with the transport and logistics industry to ensure we support them in recruiting the skilled logistics staff they desperately need.
“The importance of the sector must not be undervalued, which is why we remain committed to continuing our work with the FTA and businesses in the sector in 2019 and beyond."
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods, says FTA.