Another HGV driver shortage looms | Descartes Routing UK

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Another HGV driver shortage looms closer

HGV Driver on the Road

Although HGV Driver numbers have stabilised and even risen in recent months following a number of initiatives to recruit and retain HGV Drivers by companies, industry organisations and the UK government, there is now a concern that a drop of just 15% or 45,000 in HGV driver numbers could once again cause problems for logistics and deliveries over the next few years. 

In a recently published report by Driver Require it was revealed that a drop in the number of HGV drivers of 45,000, rather than the previously calculated figure of 70,000, would be enough to create another HGV driver’s crisis. With approximately 12,000 drivers retiring a year and only around 6,000 starting as new drivers each year we will reach a deficit of 45,000 in 7 years' time, however, it could be much sooner with 45-55 year old drivers leaving the industry to pursue other things. 

Although the number of drivers over 55 was originally thought to have contributed significantly to the 2021 driver shortage, it appears that it was in fact the drop of HGV Drivers in the 45-55 age group that had the most impact. The number of drivers in this age group dropped by 30,000 during the 2021 driver shortage and although the numbers have now recovered, (due to better pay and conditions), it is still the most likely group to move out of the industry for a change of career. Older drivers are more likely to stay as HGV drivers, believing it to be harder to change their carriers later in life and continuing to drive to retirement age. With labour shortages in many sectors, companies need to make HGV Driving appealing or we will have older drivers retiring and middle-aged drivers leaving to work elsewhere, increasing the attrition rate and overall decline in numbers. 

ONS stats show that in Q1 2023 there were 113k drivers likely to retire in the next 10 years while there were just 80k HGV drivers in the 45-55 age group coming through to replace them and 109k drivers under 45. A total of 304k including almost 40k European drivers based in the UK. 

For ways to improve driver conditions, improve efficiency and increase delivery capacity with your existing resources and drivers contact Descartes and talk with one of our fleet optimisation specialists. 

Read our latest blog - The ultimate guide to overcoming HGV driver shortages

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