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On National Logistics Day, there are claims by industry sources that the UK is falling dangerously behind its neighbours after repeated government failure to understand how the sector works.

Warnings from both Logistics UK and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) suggest that, in trying to address the country’s truck driver shortage, the government may have neglected preparing the surrounding support infrastructure for more drivers and vehicles hitting the roads.

Deputy director of Logistics UK Sarah Watkins said soaring driver salaries had led to HGV mechanics switching careers for higher wages. She added: “If a vehicle breaks down and requires servicing, there’s a delay, and a vehicle off the road means goods can’t be delivered.”

Yesterday the Department for Transport announced it would offer £300,000 to raise the profiles of logistics schools and colleges. The money, part of the Generation Logistics campaign, which began last year, is aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of a skilled and diverse logistics workforce.

Alongside this, the government also announced a rise in the funding for training heavy vehicle technicians, from £15,000 to £20,000 per trainee.

But the RHA claims this represents a “real terms reduction”, falling short of the £23,000 it says is needed to make running courses viable – the number of courses available in the UK more than halved in the past decade, down from more than 100 to 41 today.

RHA policy lead for skills and drivers Sally Gibson said: “We acknowledge the increased funding, but realistically it falls short to encourage training providers to run these courses. We also run the risk of current providers leaving the market. We urge ministers to reconsider and pledge the £23,000 we need.”

Policy advisor at Logistics UK Jonas Keat added: “Currently, there are limited providers of the Heavy Vehicle Service and Maintenance apprenticeship course across the UK. This is primarily due to the high cost of the course, which often generates a loss in revenue for most training providers.

“If skills shortages are to be resolved, sufficient support must be given to the providers being relied upon to deliver this training.”

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