RHA welcomes upbeat employment figures but urges Government to implement driver shortage measures

Following on from leading a delegation to Downing Street to petition the Prime Minister for urgent help to train up new drivers, the Road Haulage Association’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, has welcomed the announcement of rising employment but also warned that they are in contrast to the chronic skills shortage affecting the UK’s road haulage industry.

Ahead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s summer Budget, which will be delivered to Parliament, and the latest crop of new MPs, on 8th July, the industry is calling for £150 million from the Government to help address the issue.

As reported previously, the RHA estimates that the shortage is currently in the region of 45,000, and with more than 35,000 existing drivers due to retire in the next two years the issue further threatens to impact negatively on the UK’s economic recovery..

The Association is also concerned by the numerous reports that the driver shortage is leading to operators turning work away, having to park up trucks and cancelling orders for new trucks.

Richard Burnett commented: “We warmly welcome the positive news on the employment figures.  They are another sign that the UK economy is continuing to strengthen.  However, we are suffering from a severe skills shortage in our industry.

“Failing to address the chronic driver shortage threatens to stop the UK economy recovery in its tracks and it will be a missed opportunity for the Government in its drive to achieve full employment.
“Getting a truck licence costs somewhere between £3,000 and £5,000 – that’s a huge amount of money for people trying to enter the industry – and most haulage businesses are small family companies who run on very small margins so they too struggle to fund the training.

“Currently, there is no suitable apprenticeship scheme for truck driver training.  That’s why I was at Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to invest £150 million into driver training as an urgent priority to help keep the recovery on track.”