The decision by the House of Commons Transport Committee to launch an inquiry into the skills shortage in road haulage has not come a moment too soon.
The committee plans to investigate what action government has taken to address industry concerns about a lack of skilled drivers in the road haulage sector, and assess how effective the government’s response has been.
This is a problem that the industry has been struggling to deal with for years. In fact, in November 2005, Logistics Manager ran an article entitled: “We’re not just short of people with skills, but are short of people with the right skills”.
The industry has been working hard to address the problem. In August, four industry bodies agreed to work together to promote the logistics sector in light of the industry’s driver and technician shortage.
The move follows talks on collaboration between The Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers.
The joint organisation was due to be formalised by the end of September building on lessons learned from the FairFuelUK campaign, a collaborative body that lobbies against rises in fuel duty.
CILT chief Steve Agg said: “We want to promote the public’s appreciation of our industry, in all its forms, as well as attract more people to join our profession and therefore feel that it is vital we work with other leading industry partners to raise our industry’s profile.”
But there is a limit to what the industry can achieve without the right government support. And there are plenty of other industries all pushing hard to recruit the best people.
Not surprisingly, the MPs move has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association. Chief executive David Wells said: “In our recent conversations with MPs we have emphasised the real problems the logistics sector is having in attracting new recruits and suggested that Government and the industry need to work together to find solutions which enable us to keep delivering the goods for the UK economy.”
The committee inquiry will focus on the role of government in supporting recruitment, and encouraging a diverse workforce, for the road haulage industry, aspects of government policy that might may deter entrants, the quality facilities for road freight drivers, and the role of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence qualification in improving the professionalism.
It is now seeking submissions, so there is a clear opportunity to influence MPs and consequently the government on this issue. The deadline is 19th October.
Malory Davies FCILT,