With 64% of transport and storage businesses now facing severe skills shortages, the UK needs 59,000 more truck drivers, according to a new report by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

This suggests that a number of factors, including Brexit and artificial intelligence, are at the root of the problem.

FTA Head of Skills Campaigns Sally Gilson said: “The combination of an ageing workforce, low unemployment, declining EU net migration and difficulties attracting new candidates to the sector has created the perfect storm of driver shortages.”

The FTA research found that 60% of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers are over the age of 44 and only 19% are under the age of 35. The number of these drivers is falling 16,000 or 5% year-on-year.

Ms Gilson has argued that too few young people are considering a career as a lorry driver, because of a lack of understanding of the industry and the sector’s poor image combined with fears about working hours and the lack of quality facilities for drivers.

Insisting that the current scheme is not fit for purpose, the FTA is calling for the Apprenticeship Levy to become a Skills Levy, so that previously unused funds can be utilised for more flexible training programmes.

It is also urging the Government to improve driver facilities to make lorry driving a more attractive career for individuals of all ages.

“The UK economy cannot operate without HGV drivers,” Ms Gilson warned, “as they are an integral part of the logistics workforce and a vital cog in the UK’s interconnected supply chain. Without them, businesses would simply come grinding to a halt and Britain would find it very hard to keep trading.”

Last reviewed 6 November 2019