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Helping local councils beat the HGV driver shortage

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 07:29
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HGV drivers are vital to many important services that local councils provide.

From waste collection to renewables services and local authorities’ logistics operations, HGV drivers are in demand.

However, local authorities are facing difficulties sourcing ready-trained drivers, yet at the same time, they do not have the resources to train drivers in-house.

So, many authorities need more help to get HGV drivers behind the wheel more quickly.

What’s the problem?

In the last few weeks and months, many local councils across the country have reported difficulties in recruiting and training new HGV drivers.

Many note this is a nationwide problem because of the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers.

While government and industry has taken action to help recruit and train more HGV drivers, the UK still faces a chronic shortage of drivers.

Logistics UK, the trade body for the logistics industry, estimates that the number of HGV drivers in employment dropped by around 30,000 in the first quarter of 2022.

While a drop, this was less than the reduction reported in quarter three and four of 2021, which saw falls of 44,000 and 49,000, respectively.

So, there simply aren’t enough HGV drivers to go around, and local authorities are suffering as a result.

HGV driver qualificationsWhat’s the impact?

For local councils, the impact of the shortage is clear to see.

Some have had to cancel recycling or garden waste collection for a week or two. Other authorities have had to cancel collections for the entire summer.

For instance, in early September, North Devon council reported it was due to stop its garden waste collection from September 5 to September 19, citing a lack of drivers.

Beyond the lack of waste collection, local councils also face another significant impact from the lack of ready-trained drivers.

To get drivers behind the wheel, councils may need to recruit new or novice drivers.

But this can lead to several headaches for local transport and logistics managers.

First, the cost of training up new drivers is significant, especially if the local authority does not have the infrastructure to help.

Buying-in new lorries for training and testing and getting instructors can be expensive.

What’s more, without knowledge or experience of running and managing training courses, councils may take longer to train new drivers. This increases the cost of training and further delays or disrupts services.

So, while it may be tempting for local authorities to take on the training for new or novice HGV drivers, it may only create more headaches and increase costs in the medium term.

What’s the solution?

Instead, councils can benefit from a fully managed HGV driver training. Such a service helps centralise the process and takes candidates from a medical exam to practical driving training and testing.

By centralising the process, new and novice candidates can be trained more quickly, which both reduces the pressures on council services and decreases costs.

For instance, HGVC has recently been appointed by four local councils to provide HGV license acquisition programmes.

Brighton & Hove City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Adur & Worthing Council, and Worcester City Council have all appointed HGVC to provide Novice to Class 2 Skills Bootcamp training to more than 20 drivers combined over the coming months.

All four councils are facing a scarcity of ready-trained HGV drivers because of the current driver shortage and have opted to recruit and train new employees to fill this gap.

Each council has been able to take advantage of the government-subsidised Skills Bootcamps for HGV driving. This has enabled employees to undertake HGV training with a selection of extra courses at a reduced cost.

Once trained, the drivers will be allocated to the area of the council which requires the services of an HGV driver, such as transportation, road safety or waste services.

When HGV drivers play such a crucial role in providing local services, managed services provide the best way to get new and novice drivers behind the wheel more quickly.


Author: James Clifford, CEO of HGV training specialist HGVC

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