Low wages, poor facilities and a feeling that they are not well treated are all factors contributing to a slump in morale across the HGV driver community, with 78% of respondents to a recent survey saying they wouldn’t recommend their job to others.
The survey, which was conducted by the online freight exchange ReturnLoads, asked 412 drivers from the UK a series of questions ranging from their age to their thoughts on the HGV driver shortage.
There received wisdom in the sector is that there is currently a shortage of anything between 60,000 and 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK. Interestingly, less than half of those responding to the ReturnLoads survey actually believe there is a shortage of drivers, with around one-in-four actively disagreeing that there is.
Morale among lorry drivers seems to be particularly low, with an overwhelming 78% saying they simply wouldn’t recommend what they do for a living to anyone else. This also ties in with findings from the Office for National Statistics that show 80,000 qualified HGV drivers are currently not employed as lorry drivers.
The main factors identified as putting people off becoming an HGV driver, or encouraging them to leave, were poor wages, poor facilities, and ‘the way drivers are treated’.
It is perhaps the demography of the 2016 HGV community that should cause most concern, however. More than half (53%) of the UK’s HGV drivers are over the age of 45, with 22% over the age of 55, which is the same as the proportion aged between 18 and 35. That means one fifth of current drivers are set to retire in the next 10 or so years, and with 80,000 qualified drivers shunning the occupation, and 78% of those in it not recommending it, the existing population of HGV drivers is at risk of dwindling.
The eDelivery view:
Recruitment and retention of staff are challenges facing everyone; some sectors suffer more than most, of course. HGV drivers are almost certainly in short supply, that many themselves disagree is perhaps more of a reflection on the individuals’ experiences. Shortfalls in supply tend to lead to price rises, so a shortage of lorry drivers might, on the surface, be expected to lead to pay increases to draw in new blood, or get qualified-but-inactive drivers back behind the wheel. If drivers are still citing low pay as a problem, it’s not surprising they are unconvinced about driver shortages.
The issues and challenges surrounding skills, training, and recruitment are themes we will be returning to in the not-too-distant future, looking not just at drivers, but the whole retail fulfilment ecosystem.