Skills shortage blighting logistics sector

7 June 2019

With 15% of current lorry driver vacancies expected to remain unfilled, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that the nationwide shortage of skilled logistics staff continues to cause the sector major problems.

Evidence taken from representatives of over 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally, shows that a further 36% of current vacancies are likely to take time to fill, as companies struggle to find suitable candidates.

In its 2019 Logistics Report, the FTA also points out that the skills shortage is not confined to truck drivers. There are, it says, fears of significant shortfalls in the numbers of van drivers, warehouse staff, fitters, technicians and mechanics in the coming 12 months.

An ageing workforce, competition for skilled staff, and shifting migration patterns (due in part to Brexit) means that the logistics sector is facing serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of labour for key roles, the FTA’s Sally Gilson explained.

“After all,” she added, “the average age of an 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 help tackle the skills shortage, the FTA is campaigning for unused Apprenticeship Levy funds to be utilised for more flexible training programmes, Ms Gilson added, and also for changes to the Future Immigration White Paper, so that non-UK logistics workers are welcomed in the UK.

The 2019 Logistics Report was produced in association with Santander Corporate and Commercial. Its Head of Transport and Logistics, John Simkins, commented that 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, he said, it is vital that the transport and logistics industry gets the support it requires to recruit the skilled logistics staff so desperately needed.

The 2019 Logistics Report is available at fta.co.uk/logisticsreport although some company details must be submitted to gain access.