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The UK logistics industry is being urged to tell the government about the skills shortage facing the country, following an appeal from an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on road freight and logistics.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) believes Whitehall needs to contribute more and is urging its members to contribute to a APPG survey, as it warns of the threats from Brexit and the ongoing driver shortage.

“The logistics industry is the lifeblood of the UK economy, employing more than 2.5 million people and contributing £121bn to the nation,” said head of skills Sally Gibson.

“From HGV drivers to warehouse staff, the UK simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce – businesses would come grinding to a halt and Britain would cease trading.”

In recent years, the EU and US have seen an ever-widening gap between the number of drivers needed and available staff – the UK alone facing a 52,000 driver shortfall.

And this number could increase should it leave the EU with a no-deal Brexit, with the FTA expecting other areas of the supply chain to be hit.

According to FTA figures, EU nationals account for 13% (43,000) of the UK’s drivers, 19% (193,000) of warehouse staff and 25% (19,000) of wider supply chain operatives.

“In the event of no-deal, it is very difficult to see how the industry could fill this loss of workers,” said Ms Gibson.

Much of the shortfall on the driver side is linked to an ageing workforce and little incentive for younger recruits to enter the industry.

Further condemning the situation, a CBI report claims there is “simply not enough new talent entering the sector at a rate sufficient to counter the ageing workforce”.

“The logistics sector is working hard to attract new homegrown talent, but we are competing against many other sectors,” said Ms Gibson. “These other sectors are also suffering skills shortages, which is why we have record levels of vacancies across the sector.”

In an attempt to tackle the declining workforce, the British International Freight Association (Bifa) this year launched a networking group for young forwarders.

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  • Craig Buchanan

    April 16, 2019 at 7:44 am

    There seems to be no mention of the Link in the fall of drivers to the introduction of the Driver CPC which for the most part is a rubber stamping process that is costing many drivers personally in terms of financing.
    Flexibility in the work offered is also pushing drivers away from the industry, poor road conditions, increased regulations and above all very low driver wages when compared to other industries, the age of the workforce has no real impact when the above is taken into consideration. If the wages paid were directly comparable to the risks involved in the job recruitment would be higher, the drivers themselves are at (potential but real) risk daily of picking up a traffic violation due to accident or otherwise, pulled over for unsafe load, unsafe / none roadworthy vehicle (the classic single trailer light none operational) in short a myriad of legal concerns that can leave the driver facing legal action! Just for doing their job, I am not excusing any of the above as acceptable merely pointing out the risk / reward, how many shop and office workers face the same just for attending work?

    If businesses pay better wages there will be no recruitment problems and many of the drivers who have left the industry would return.