Last reviewed 1 June 2022

Although the UK’s heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver shortage remains chronic, according to analysis of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey data by Logistics UK, the number of HGV drivers in employment is not falling as significantly as in recent quarters.

The transport group has therefore expressed cautious optimism that initiatives introduced by the Government and industry in the latter part of 2021 and into this year are starting to yield results.

Deputy Director of Policy Information at Logistics UK, Sarah Watkins, explained: “The reduction in numbers of HGV drivers in employment, generally caused by retirements or shifts into other careers, slowed in the first quarter of 2022, compared with the second half of 2021, which illustrates how actions such as increased wages for drivers, drivers’ skills bootcamps and improved throughputs of testing by the DVSA are beginning to address the loss of skilled workers which we have seen in the recent past.”

The survey indicates that, while the number of HGV drivers in employment is estimated to have fallen by 30,300 in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, this is less of a reduction than in Q3 and Q4 of 2021 which saw falls of 44,000 and 49,000 respectively.

Logistics UK also welcomed the fact that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) conducted 26,388 practical HGV tests in Q1 2022, an increase of 43% compared with the same period in 2019.

HGV driver wages have also increased, as firms work to retain existing staff and attract new drivers, with advertised salaries for those qualified to drive the heaviest vehicles increasing by an average of 25% in Q1 2022 compared with a year ago.

“What the industry now needs,” Ms Watkins concluded, “is a renewed focus on the improvement of facilities for drivers across the strategic roads network, to provide the services and support which these key workers deserve during their working lives.”