Britain Needs Truckers in 2022
The UK has 76,000 unfilled trucker jobs – and some models predict that the shortage could get worse.
This is everyone’s problem, because every other business depends on shipping and storage to some degree. Any time you have an interdependent economy bigger than one village, that's going to be the case.
And it’s not just Britain – shortages are hitting across Europe. Many experts think the issue is the image of the industry: the average age of drivers is 47, and young people tend to think of it as a career that's not really going anywhere and involves a lot of sacrifices for pay that's average at best.
Even when younger people want to get into the industry, many companies don't want to take them on because insurance premiums are higher for drivers under 25. In addition, the necessary licenses and training are expensive; some drivers end up paying as much as £5,000.
Lockdown also prevented many drivers from taking their HGV licence test, and it's projected that as many as 16,000 of those drivers might not come back to it. And as in most sectors, the economic impact of both COVID and Brexit has taken a toll.
Brexit in particular could severely worsen the shortage. There are around 320,000 truck drivers working on UK roads. An estimated 60,000 of those are from elsewhere in Europe. If they start having difficulties with visas post-Brexit, they might leave the country. At that point, the shortage would be extreme enough to prevent businesses from offering services like next-day delivery.
However, there’s a potential solution closer to home: recruiting women. The trucking industry is extremely male-dominated; shedding this stereotype could bring an influx of female drivers that might be enough to fix the shortage.
Another suggested fix is changing the testing regulations or offering more grants to those looking to pursue licensing. There have also been public calls to improve pay and working conditions for drivers. Organisations like the RHA are working to raise the profile of the industry, and to make people more aware of how essential it is.