Skills for Logistics, Milton Keynes, May 2012. The UK is facing a looming driver shortage for Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) that risks holding back economic recovery, according to a report released by Skills for Logistics.
The report, titled: ‘A Looming Driver Shortage? The evidence behind the concerns’, finds that there are substantially more vacancies than candidates seeking an LGV profession, which has led to wages growing faster for drivers than other employees across the country. Fewer people are taking LGV tests and over the last four years there has been a 31 per cent decline in the number of individuals passing their LGV test.
Furthermore, not all licence holders are becoming professional drivers. New entrants now have to complete an initial Diver qualification and go on to obtain a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) to drive professionally. Just over 12,000 individuals obtained DQCs issued for both LGV and PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) – the DSA does not distinguish between the two – in 2010/11, which means just 44 per cent of those passing tests can drive professionally.
The driver shortage problem is made more acute by the fact that 16 per cent of LGV drivers are aged 60 or above, while just 1 per cent of employed drivers are under 25, partly due to the cost of insurance. Those retiring over the next 5 years will leave a potential replacement demand of 48,000 drivers.
In addition to not enough young people, too few female drivers are gaining their licence and entering the profession: just 1 per cent of LGV drivers and five per cent of van drivers are female in comparison to the overall female employment rate of 46 per cent.
The report also finds that the 479,000 people currently in the LGV and Van driving profession (which is 2 per cent of the UK’s total employment) actually accounts for just one third of the number of existing license holders. Using information obtained following an FOI request from the DVLA, the report reveals the number of individuals holding a ‘Category C’ vocational licence is approximately 900,000, with over 600,000 able to drive with a trailer over 750 kg.
While this shows the existence of a large pool of drivers with vocational training, the need to have a driver CPC in addition to a licence will have an impact. The report identifies a sub-optimal uptake of driver CPC periodic training with a predicted shortfall of 1.7 million training hours or nearly 250,000 seven-hour courses by 2014. Currently only 8.2 per cent of professional drivers have received their DQC as a result of completing 35 hours worth of training required for a CPC.
"The driver shortage is not new but its effects were mitigated by the economic downturn," said Dr Ross Moloney, Director of Intelligence and Strategy at Skills for Logistics. "Now, as the UK economy recovers, resolving this issue will be critical to avoid holding up growth. This is because more than 60 per cent of goods in Britain are moved on roads, which generated an annual turnover in 2010 of over £22bn."
Moloney added: "The report clearly shows that the Logistics Sector, which as a whole is vital to the UK economy, needs to be made more attractive as a career option – particularly to female and young recruits. Furthermore, it is imperative that improved and more targeted training is delivered to those who have been attracted."
A full account of the data is available in the report: ‘A Looming Driver Shortage? The evidence behind the concerns’. For a copy, email: Gwenn.Winters@skillsforlogistics.org