FTA presses government on driver shortages

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The Freight Transport Association has highlighted the problem of driver shortages at a meeting with employment minister Esther McVey to sign a partnership agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions aimed at improving recruitment and skill levels in the logistics industry.

Managing director of membership and policy James Hookham argued for the extension of student loans for the funding of vocational training starting with the urgent need for licence acquisition for aspiring HGV drivers.

The partnership agreement commits FTA and the DWP to work together to raise the profile of the logistics sector with jobseekers, through local and national initiatives as well as developing work experience and employment and skills programmes to make it easier for job seekers to gain employment in the logistics sector.

In addition, they will share labour market intelligence that will help guide both DWP and industry on vacancy and skills gaps; inform and support DWP’s JobCentre advisors’ understanding of the breadth of opportunities and career prospects in the logistics sector; and promote the professionalising of the industry through new logistics qualifications.

Hookham said: “This agreement outlines clear objectives, particularly regarding the improvement of recruitment and skill levels in the logistics industry and commits FTA and DWP specific outcomes to resolve specific issues to resolve this as soon as possible.”

* Food Storage and Distribution Federation chief Chris Sturman has joined calls for the government to take a hand in dealing with the shortage of commercial vehicle drivers.

“The shortage of full time and agency drivers in the United Kingdom has been discussed at length by my colleagues from the RHA and other organisations, but a united approach is required to ensure the Government and the public understands the very real risks the country faces in light of this crisis,” said Sturman.

 “Unless the government take action, the impact of driver shortages will not only affect Christmas gift deliveries, but also wholesale and foodservice food and drink. Restaurants, caterers, pubs and clubs may be affected, adversely affecting the nationʼs ability to party! “In the longer term, the escalating driver shortage issue is likely to lead to sharp increases in transport costs and pricing, as vehicle operators pull out all stops to recruit and keep drivers. These additional costs will have to be passed down the supply chain and will ultimately be covered by the consumer.

 “We fully endorse the call for government to fund the training and licensing of new driver talent into the logistics sector and to encourage the insurance market to review minimum age stipulations to ensure the sector can attract young people at the start of their careers.”

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