Pay rises and improved working conditions are helping hauliers to overcome the nationwide driver shortage, according to accountancy and business adviser Duncan & Toplis.
The company reports pay rises of between 10-14% are helping haulage firms to attract and retain drivers in the wake of a national shortage which has severely impacted the industry over the past year.
Although there is a nationwide worker shortage across many sectors, fuelled by both the pandemic, Brexit and long-standing issues, the haulage sector has been in particular need of qualified drivers.
Official figures show an 81% rise in the number of vacancies for the transport and storage industry between October and December last year compared to the same period in 2020, with 56,000 vacancies, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association has warned that the industry is short of up to 100,000 drivers, with 40,000 fewer than before the pandemic began.
Keith Phillips, Head of Transport, Haulage and Logistics at Duncan & Toplis, which supports more than 12,000 people and organisations across the East Midlands, including 40 haulage businesses, reports that increasing pay and conditions is helping companies to overcome the shortage.
“Since the haulage crisis was at its height this summer, the emphasis may have changed, but the underlying issues have not,” said Phillips. “Some hauliers, such as those transporting product from ports to factories are now faring a little better because there are fewer goods coming into the country. Meanwhile, those handling raw food products are struggling because demand is high at this time of year.
“Generally, however, hauliers are overcoming the driver shortage by trying to tempt drivers who’ve left the profession to come back to work by increasing pay and making the work more appealing. Most of my clients have increased pay by around 14% and they’re offering options like flexible working, fixed hours, fixed days and full or part time work.
Although ONS labour market statistics do show an 81% increase in vacancies year on year for the transport and haulage industry, the October-December period was the first time in 12 months that the number of vacancies in the sector had decreased, reducing from a record 57,000 vacancies in September to November to 56,000 vacancies at the end of the year.
Ballards Removals, which employs 35 full-time drivers, managed to overcome the effects of the driver shortage by increasing its pay offer – by at least 10% over the last year with two successive pay rises.
“The driver shortage has been a growing problem over many years, caused by the number of drivers retiring at the end of their careers and the lack of new starters taking up driver training and it’s then been made worse by Brexit and the pandemic,” commented Matthew Ballard, Managing director of Ballards Removals. “We were fortunate to be able to nip this problem in the bud by improving pay to make the job more lucrative.”