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11 September 23

Truck Driver Shortage - Navigating Impacts on the Haulage Sector


The haulage sector, a critical component of any economy, relies heavily on the availability of skilled truck drivers. However, recent years have witnessed concerns over a truck driver shortage in the UK, raising questions about the industry's stability and its impact on logistics. In this article, we'll delve into the status of the truck driver market, explore the efforts to address the shortage, analyse the potential consequences, and consider the broader implications for the haulage sector in the UK.

The Truck Driver Shortage: Is it Still a Reality?

The truck driver shortage has been a subject of discussion for several years. We are aware that across our network of tyre fitters and tyre dealers that a number of the 24 hour fitting teams were impacted as fitters switched to working as drivers to fill vacancies created by the loss of foreign drivers post Brexit and IR 35 reform. While the exact numbers fluctuate, the scarcity of qualified truck drivers continues to pose challenges for the haulage industry. Factors contributing to this shortage include an aging workforce, demanding working conditions, and shifts in workforce priorities and the LGV driver testing suspension as a result of the Pandemic. Despite training initiatives, recruitment campaigns, and industry efforts, filling the gap remains an uphill battle. The Government has claimed that it has instigated numerous initiatives to help alleviate the problem from providing temporary licences to enable hauliers to recruit migrant or overseas based workers through to a series of structure apprenticeship programmes and increasing driver training and testing capacity.

Reviewing the Numbers: Drivers and Employers

In recent years, the gap between the number of available drivers and the demands of the industry has widened. The shortage has prompted fleet management services for haulage companies to offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain drivers. Whilst this has provided some relief, it has also led to increased operational costs, impacting profit margins.

Government Licences and European Drivers: A Temporary Solution?

In response to the shortage, the Government added 4,700 temporary licences to employ overseas drivers and to bring in European drivers to the UK. This might provide a short-term solution, but it also raises questions about the long-term sustainability of the workforce. Additionally, administrative hurdles and Brexit-related complications could limit the effectiveness of this approach. It is crucial to view such measures as stopgaps rather than permanent fixes.  

In the longer term the Government would argue that it has established a number of other initiatives:

1.     An investment of £34 million to create new HGV Skills Bootcamps to train over 11,000 more people to become HGV drivers in England.

2.     The launch of a new Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeships on 1 August 2021, which provides up to £7,000 of funding for training.

3.     They have given an incentive payment of £3,000 to employers who employed an apprentice before 31 January 2022.

4.     They have launched the new Urban Driver apprenticeship for lorries (category C vehicles) which provides up to £5,000 of funding for training.

5.     They provided extra funding for both medical and HGV licences for any adult who completes a vocational qualification in HGV driving accessed through the adult education budget in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

6.     They have expanded the Department for Work and Pension’s driver training pilot delivered through Jobcentre Plus to bring jobseekers into the industry.

7.     They’ve provided grant funding to Road to Logistics (a national, not for profit, logistics training organisation) which is working with the Welsh Government and HM Prison and Probation Service to train ex-offenders to drive lorries as well as supporting the Jobcentre Plus pilot.

8.     They have provided grant funding to Think Logistics which, with Career Ready, is working to attract young people to the profession.

The issue is probably less about the initiatives and more about the fundamental willingness for people to become part of the industry. The Road Haulage association (RHA) has consistently lobbied for long-term government funding for Skills Bootcamps as alternative training for drivers. Through their Roadside Facilities Campaign, they have created a petition and secured £52.5 million from the government for improving driver facilities. This includes creating more safe and secure parking, improving the standard and security of driver facilities, and focusing on the importance of overall driver welfare and wellbeing.

An Ageing Workforce

Many truck drivers are older and approaching retirement. According to the Chartered Institute of Logistics, the average age of drivers has increased to 51 in 2022, up from 47 since 2015.

A report in January 2023 suggested that there are not enough younger workers entering the industry. “Truck driving can be demanding, with long, lonely periods away from home, dire roadside facilities, and other challenges that can make it less appealing to job seekers. Many young people avoid truck driving because of the industry’s image, a lack of career guidance towards the transport sector in schools, and a lack of incentives and awareness programmes to attract them.”

In addition, they identify a few wider issues:

1.     Regulations: The UK has implemented stricter regulations on drivers, such as the need for additional training and certification, which can make it more difficult for people to enter the profession.

2.     Brexit: Many EU drivers left the UK due to uncertainty about their status and future in the country, security of driver facilities, and focusing on the importance of overall driver welfare and wellbeing.

Impact on Salaries and Logistics

The shortage of truck drivers has had a direct impact on both salaries and logistics within the haulage sector. As companies compete for a limited pool of drivers, wages have been driven up, potentially leading to inflationary pressures within the industry. While this benefits drivers in the short term, it places financial strain on haulage companies and could lead to increased costs for consumers.

From a logistics perspective, the shortage has caused delays and disruptions in supply chains. With fewer drivers available, deliveries are taking longer to reach their destinations. This not only affects the businesses relying on timely shipments but also has a ripple effect on various industries that depend on the timely movement of goods.

Looking Ahead: Navigating Challenges

In the short term, the haulage sector and fleet management services must focus on implementing strategies to mitigate the impacts of the driver shortage. This could include investing in driver training programs, optimizing routes to maximize efficiency, and exploring technology solutions that streamline operations. Collaboration between industry stakeholders, government bodies, and training institutions will be crucial to find sustainable solutions.


The truck driver shortage remains a pressing concern for the haulage sector in the UK. While the industry continues to grapple with this challenge, it is crucial to explore comprehensive and sustainable solutions that address the root causes of the shortage. By adapting to changing workforce dynamics, embracing technology, and fostering collaboration, the haulage sector can navigate these challenges and ensure the efficient movement of goods while maintaining the economic vitality of the industry.

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