According to the Freight Transport Association, the shortage of professional drivers is going to worsen considerably as many EU27 drivers leave the UK, and new drivers may face challenging skills-based immigration tests. Companies using fleet drivers – whether PSV, van or HGV – may well have to up their game as employees to forestall the shortage, retain their existing workforce and compete against other industries which are facing similar problems.
Speaking at the recent FTA’s Van Excellence Operational Briefings 2019, FTA policy manager Denise Beedell said the current HGV driver shortage is 52,000. 13% of existing HGV drivers are EU27 nationals and 11% of van drivers. As the DVLA doesn’t hold separate data on passenger transport licences, it isn’t easy to determine how many bus drivers may be affected. However, overall passenger transport has been much more successful at attracting drivers from other ethnic backgrounds than logistics, which may mitigate the effects of Brexit somewhat.
Beedell also said that while FTA has no figures for how many EU27 drivers have already left the UK, FTA members anecdotally report ‘a steady exodus’.
EU27 nationals may be uncertain about applying for settled or pre-settled status in the UK, and their wages are also worth less compared to what they could earn elsewhere in the EU as the value of the pound has fallen.
We should also note that 88% of logistics workers would not qualify for skills-based immigration criteria (A-levels up, and £30,000 annual salary) so the numbers of new EU27 citizens seeking work in UK logistics is likely to be extremely low. (FTA Skills Shortage Report, November 2018.)
So what can employers do to make driving a more attractive employment option? One of the reasons that drivers give for leaving the industry is money. However, the other, which is possibly more important, is stress. Drivers in every type of fleet, van, truck or bus and coach, face organisational stresses, road hazards, congestion, and frequently unsympathetic treatment from the public in general.
One key way in which employers can mitigate some of this stress is to protect drivers with a safety programme that works for them. In the hundreds of client companies SmartDrive has globally, we see drivers rapidly realise that the video-based safety system in their vehicles is a lifeline. This is why:
- It captures and offloads footage and vehicle data from before and after triggered events, which are analysed by an in-house team of experienced safety assessors.
- This means that as well as coaching hints for the drivers, fleets can proactively review areas or periods of exceptional difficulty, or where organisational stress is affecting their drivers’ performance and take steps to mitigate these situations.
- The driver can manually activate the camera if he wishes to record something for their own protection.
- It frequently exonerates innocent drivers involved in crash-for-cash incidents, unfair accusations of damage or in no-fault incidents with vulnerable road users.
- It also protects drivers from he-said/she-said incidents that which would typically be settled 50-50 – but which can still leave a mark on a drivers’ performance record.
As a driver, knowing that your employer has your back and that you can prove exactly what happened in any given situation takes much of the stress out of dealing with congested, hazardous roads and a sometimes unappreciative public.
Transport companies will be competing harder than ever for drivers in a post-Brexit world. We must all do everything we can to make driving feel like a safe, lower-stress and supported role.
For more reasons to use a managed video-based safety programme in your fleet, see our resources section for the document Eyes Wide Open. There is a version for truck fleets, for PSV fleets and for van fleets.
- Posted by Nicola Burgess
- On August 23, 2019