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‘A driver is for life – not just for Christmas’ warns FTA

Black Friday – Sofa Sunday – Cyber Monday; recognised as the biggest shopping days of the year and when logistics operators will be put under pressure to deliver the goods – which won’t be helped this Christmas because of the growing problem of driver shortage.

Christmas shopping starts in earnest this week beginning with ‘Black Friday’ – the American shopping extravaganza which has made its way to the UK. This year, more than ever, Britain will be swamped with discounts online and in the High Street. Almost one in four purchases are expected to be made online as shoppers spend £1.7bn a day in the run-up to Christmas and all have to delivered to the customer on time for the big day.

But the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is warning that the problem of driver shortage is a long term issue and not just one that is going to affect the festive season.

“A driver is for life not just for Christmas” is the message from logistics operators who have taken part in an FTA survey with 94% of participants saying that they see driver shortage as a real concern to the freight industry.

Sally Gilson, FTA Skills Policy Manager stated:
“With just a month to go until Christmas day – it is clear that the festive season is at the forefront of our minds – but driver shortage is not just a seasonal issue but a long- term problem. FTA has long voiced its worries regarding driver shortage and is calling on the government to support the freight industry with funding in order to encourage new drivers to enrol in the logistics industry.”

The FTA survey results illustrate that there is no ‘north-south divide’ when it comes to a lack of drivers as the delegates attending the current FTA Transport Manager Conference series 2014 at venues around the country including Brands Hatch, Durham, Warrington, Leeds, Taunton, Huntingdon, Chepstow, Dunblane, Sheffield and Slough were joined in their response. The Association’s survey also confirmed that driver shortage is not only a concern on the run-up to Christmas but a potential problem in the longer term.

Delegates attending the FTA Transport Manager Conference series were asked to answer a ‘snap-shot’ survey relating to their own freight operations and were asked: “On a scale of 1-5 how bad is the driver shortage?”

And our survey said:

67% of respondents in Durham said that driver shortage is ‘very bad – and that it will be a major issue’
60% delegates in Warrington replied that ‘it is bad and could impact Christmas deliveries’
57% of attendees at the Dunblane event said that it is ‘a potential problem in the longer term’

FTA is once again highlighting the serious issue of delivering the goods in time for Christmas and is claiming that the freight industry is in need of drivers to meet the demand in the weeks up to the busiest time of the year for many businesses. In addition the Association estimates that the number of drivers that will need to be recruited over the next few years exceeds 45,000.

Ms Gilson concluded:
“It is clear that from the FTA survey that the issue of driver shortage is one of genuine concern. This is the busiest time of the year for many businesses. With ‘Black Friday’ looming and thanks to the e-commerce explosion with so many people buying goods on line it is only going to get busier. It may appear that there are more ‘trucks on the road’ but they are simply trying to deliver the goods ordered. The simple fact is that this is a case of supply and demand but the real problem is that there simply aren’t enough drivers to meet it.”

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