2021 Lorry Driver Shortage: What Is Going On?

If you have read the newspaper recently or watched the news, the current shortage of HGV drivers has been making headlines across the country. However, what is really going on and why are we suddenly facing a shortage of lorry drivers?

We thought we would take a closer look at the current situation to see what has caused it and what the future has in store for lorry drivers.

Why is there a shortage?

The current shortage of lorry drivers is a result of the perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and a host of external factors. According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there is currently a need for 100,000 additional drivers, down from a pre-coronavirus total of just over 600,000.

However, even before COVID, there was a growing shortage of drivers due to Brexit. The migration rules due to the UK no longer being part of the single market meant many European HGV drivers were not able to move across the border freely.

The increased bureaucracy involved with travelling into the UK, alongside the additional costs, has meant that many HGV drivers are not opting to remain working within EU companies. Even those that have continued to work within the UK are facing changing tax regimes that are far less attractive. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual population survey found that there were 16,000 fewer European nationals working as HGV drivers in the UK in March 2021 compared to the previous year.

While Brexit has caused many issues for lorry drivers, the global pandemic has only exacerbated the problems already. Travel restrictions have prevented many drivers from being able to travel freely. This is not just a problem in the UK, with the whole of Europe having experienced these issues alongside their own shortage of drivers. The pandemic also meant that HGV driving tests have been put on hold, with 2020 seeing 25,000 fewer tests than 2019.

What is being done to overcome the shortage?

This growing shortage is creating significant challenges across multiple industries. The government has announced that from October, they will be relaxing restrictions for foreign workers to encourage them to come back to the UK to work. Examiners from the Ministry of Defence are also going to be brought in to help reduce the backlog of HGV driving tests.

To try and entice new drivers into the field, there is also going to be a range of intensive boot camps. These camps are aiming to train 3,000 individuals to become lorry drivers, with a further 1,000 to be trained and funded through the adult education budget. Estimates suggest that there are currently around one million individuals in the UK who hold an HGV licence, and the government are writing to these to encourage them to return to driving.

While these measures are going to help bring more drivers into the industry, it is not an immediate fix. To help combat the current issues, the UK government has also announced a temporary relaxation of the current Drivers’ Hours rules. This amendment will now allow drivers to increase the daily limit of nine hours behind the wheel to 11 twice a week.

Looking to become a truck driver?

There has never been a better time to become a truck driver. Not only is there exceptional demand for drivers, but wages are steadily increasing too, making it a highly lucrative move.

Here at Flexistaff, we offer comprehensive CPC training for lorry drivers, and we are committed to providing the very best service and training for our customers. Want to find out how we can help you? Check out our range of training courses or get in touch with our team today.