Haulage industry leaders will meet HM Treasury tomorrow (Friday 20 February) to set out why government funding for firms to train lorry drivers is essential and appropriate.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said in a joint statement ahead of the meeting:
“The UK is facing a growing, structural shortage of lorry drivers. The clear message from our members is that the Chancellor should be concerned about the impact that this will have, increasingly, on the economy as a whole. It will damage what is an essential service industry and it will hold back growth.
“We calculate that we are 45,000 drivers short now. At least 40,000 will leave the industry over the next two years and yet we are only training at the rate of 17,000 a year.
“We welcome Chancellor Osborne’s invitation to discuss what urgent measures the government might take.
“The government has asked the industry to develop proposals for Trailblazer apprenticeship funding for new lorry drivers, which it is doing. But that scheme will not go live until September 2017. The industry – and the UK economy – needs a simple, nationally available, readily accessible, funding stream for companies to bridge that gap. We have asked for a scheme that is time-limited for two years.
“That way we can address what is a highly damaging skills shortage and also reduce the industry’s need to source its workforce from outside the UK.
”The Chancellor has a golden opportunity to fund transformational change in a vital British industry – and we will be pressing that case very firmly today.”