If you’ve been here a while, we often talk about two things – the HGV driver shortage, and how great it is to be a HGV driver. You might think those two things don’t go together, but the sad fact is not many people realise what a great job being a HGV driver can be. So instead of looking at the options and doing some training, they opt for jobs that likely don’t pay as well, have the security of being a HGV driver, or give them the same level of freedom. And a common reason for this is that they don’t think HGV drivers are really in demand anymore. But they couldn’t be more wrong! Despite all the advances in technology and changes to the job market, the UK needs HGV drivers more now than ever before.
To show you just how wrong that is, we have a few statistics to share with you.
One of the things we can’t ignore is that there was already a shortage of drivers in the UK before, and the issues causing that shortage haven’t gone away. If anything, the driver shortage has actually got worse over the last year. Data from the Freight Transport Association states that the UK was short 76,000 drivers in 2020 – a massive jump from the 59,000 recorded in 2019. This alone shows us just how much of a demand there is for HGV drivers. On top of that, the FTA also said that 64% of transport and logistics companies are facing a severe skills shortage, and it will only grow in the coming years. That’s the level of demand we were already facing going into 2020, before any of the events of the last year – and it’s already pretty high! It is estimated that the current demand for HGV drivers in 2021 is at 300,000 drivers that are in need to tackle this shortage.
The Impact of 2020
There is no denying that 2020 has hit all of us hard, with so much going on in the world it’s been difficult to keep track. For the UK, there are 2 main causes behind the difficulties – Brexit and the pandemic – and in the haulage industry we have been feeling these hard.
Along with a lot of extra red tape to deal with, many HGV drivers who were not UK citizens have made the decision to leave the UK and return to their home countries, or seek out work in other countries with free movement. It’s been described as an ‘exodus’ of drivers, and the gap they have left behind means haulage firms are taking drastic measures to attract and train new HGV drivers to ease the pressure. There has never been more demand for HGV drivers than right now.
Then you have Covid-19. Not a single industry has not been impacted by the pandemic, including haulage. The main issue here is that with nearly a year of lockdowns and people staying at home, online shopping rates have absolutely skyrocketed. This means there are hundreds, if not thousands more deliveries that need to be made every week, and a very finite number of drivers to make them. Haulage firms are scrambling to hire new talent, and drivers are feeling stretched thin as they work extra shifts to cover the demand. And since Covid has also slowed down the rate of new drivers taking and passing their tests (mainly due to testing restrictions), the stream of new drivers coming into the field has slowed down significantly, which only adds to the pressure.
New Business Spike
A slightly more positive side-effect of the pandemic is that people who are home with not a lot to do, or who have lost their jobs due to redundancy, have been starting up their own businesses, either as a way to pass the time, or as a chance to move away from a job they were unhappy in. A lot of these new businesses, big or small, are in the e-commerce world, which is seeing a huge boom right now as we mentioned earlier. The knock-on effect of that is that for each business sale, a driver is needed to move raw materials to wholesalers, from wholesalers to the business, and then finished product from business to customer. So the more new businesses that start up, the more demand there is for new HGV drivers to help spread the load.
So the headline is: yes, HGV drivers are absolutely in demand in 2021 – now more than ever. And unlike many jobs in these uncertain times, HGV driving offers a level of job security it’s hard to turn down. Add that to the great pay incentives, and the freedom you gain from being on the road all the time, training to be a HGV driver could be one of the best things you ever do. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a HGV driver, or starting your journey, we would love to help. Just get in touch with our team today to talk with an advisor about your next move.
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