Brexit left a trail of issues for courier services in 2020. One of the major problems was a shortage of HGV drivers. In an effort to attract more individuals to the industry, the government looked again at salary scales. Indeed, it was also clear that the work was not attracting a wide variety of people – most HGV drivers were male and over 40 years old. Following keen promotions, the department of Education has created bootcamps across the UK to train would-be drivers who are considering working in the industry.
Why Did Brexit cause a HGV Driver Shortage?
As much as the UK wants to open up contracts for trade with countries outside of the EU, there was obviously still a real need to keep up those trade networks with Europe. Before Brexit was finalised at the end of 2021, a large percentage of drivers were from Europe itself. Many commentators would say that haulage and courier services were relying on cheaper labour from Europe. Following Brexit, the vast majority of Europeans working in the industry returned to the continent. This was because it was financially more beneficial for them, customs regulations made it difficult to work from the UK and previous delivery work in Europe was more complex due to the realigning of EU and UK border controls.
Other Reasons for Driver Shortages in Courier Services
For some time, haulage has been considered work for an “older white man”. Statistics suggest that before Brexit nearly 50% of HGV drivers were men above the age of 50. Only 1% were below the age of 25. So the industry was not attracting the young generation, women or people from ethnic backgrounds.
The pandemic intensified the problem. Individuals were unable to take the HGV driving training or tests due to lockdown restrictions.
New Bootcamps for HGV Drivers
There has been an enormous interest in the new bootcamps set up by the department of education, but perhaps one of the most encouraging signs is the range of individuals who have shown an interest. Haulage UK reports that 7% of applicants are women and around 25% are from a non-white ethnic background. In an effort to attract young people with no experience in HGV driving, free courses are available. The government has invested £34 million into this project and is hoping to train more than 11,000 people in England alone.
Other Training Initiatives Affecting Courier Services
- Ministers have provided £7,000 to launch large goods vehicle driver apprenticeships.
- Ministers have provided incentive payments of £3000 to employers who employ an apprentice.
- The new “urban driver apprenticeship for lorries” provides up to £5000 of funding for training.
- The younger driver can access the Department for Work and Pensions driver training pilot through Jobcentre Plus.
- The government is offering flexible support funding for jobseekers and those on universal credit who have an HGV license towards the cost the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence qualification.
In a way, the crisis of the pandemic and the aftermath of Brexit could signal a new start for the haulage industries. Ministers continue to look at new facilities, a fairer working salary for workers in the industry, and more funds are being ring-fenced for training. So the future looks encouraging. We still have a long way to go but hopefully there will be a more balanced range of employees attracted to the work.