As many as 4,000 people will receive the new HGV driver training “to help solve the problem of skills shortages and support more people in the logistics field”, and will send nearly 1 million letters to all drivers holding HGV licenses, “Encourage them to return to this industry,” the government said.
Data from the UK National Bureau of Statistics shows that the UK had a record 1 million job vacancies between June and August, and the shortage of workers is a growing problem.
The British Road Transport Association (RHA) stated that the UK needs to add another 100,000 drivers to meet demand. The driver shortage is partly due to Brexit and Covid-19, as well as the loss of about a year of driver training and testing.
“The current administration will continue to do everything we can to help the transportation and food industries cope with the shortage of heavy truck drivers,” Transportation Secretary Grant Shaps said in a statement.
Sharps called on the industry to play its part and “continue to maintain working conditions and deserved salary increases so that the company can retain new drivers.”
He added: “After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is to all of us, and that’s why we need to take these steps as early as possible to ensure that preparations go as planned.”
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Beverage Federation, said his organization welcomes the government’s “pragmatic decision” to temporarily include HGV drivers and poultry workers in the visa program.
In a statement to CNN, Wright said: “This is what British food and beverage manufacturers have been asking for in the past few months… to relieve some of the pressure on the food supply chain caused by labor shortages.”
“This is the beginning, but we need the government to continue to cooperate with the industry and seek other long-term solutions.”
But according to local media reports, others, including Andrew Opie, director of the British Retail Association, stated that the 5,000 HGV visa limit “has little help in alleviating the current shortage”.