The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the Government to support logistics industry apprenticeships in its submission to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into skills and workforce planning in the road haulage sector.
The Committee is investigating and assessing the Government’s response to haulage industry concerns about the lack of skilled drivers in the sector. FTA estimates a shortfall of around 60,000 drivers across the UK.
FTA says the Government should ensure that apprenticeships are in place by 2017 to encourage younger people into the industry. The Association also wants to see the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan extended to enable financial support to fund licence acquisition.
In a survey of FTA members in July this year, more than 80% of companies reported delays in being able to hire permanent LGV drivers. Almost a third indicated they suffered lengthy delays or were unable to fill vacancies and two-thirds reported problems hiring temporary drivers through agencies.
FTA says more driver facilities need to be provided across the UK road network. Local authorities need to ensure that relevant business and industrial developments include provision for LGV parking and rest facilities.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of national and Regional Policy, said:
“The Government needs to take urgent action to help the logistics industry tackle the driver shortage and attract younger people to the industry. Effective logistics are vital to the UK economy and it is vital that these issues are addressed before we reach crisis point.”
The FTA survey shows that 62% of LGV drivers are aged 45 or over – which is vastly different to the economy-wide demographics, where the population aged 45 years or older in employment is around 35%. Only 1% of employed drivers are currently under 25.
The FTA’s submission also argues against any unnecessary increase in the regulatory burden on drivers and operators. The Association says industry and individuals need to be free, within parameters, to identify their own training needs. FTA is opposed to any mandating of elements of the Driver CPC syllabus – flexibility to key to making the training requirement as useful as possible.
FTA last month embarked on its first engineer apprenticeships with Gist to offer would-be engineers the opportunities and experience to start their careers in logistics without going to university. FTA is working alongside Gist – the award-winning supply chain specialist – to ‘give something back’ to the industry.