The latest UK Labour Market survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG has underlined the acute driver shortage that is threatening to stymie operator growth.

Released last week to provide a snapshot of the state of the UK jobs market for the new government, the report shows drivers are one of several permanent positions employers are struggling to fill.

The report also highlights that temporary drivers are hard to source. This was underlined earlier this month, with reports that recruiter Mainline Employment was offering £100 for each Bulgarian, Polish or Romanian driver it recruits after a drive to recruit UK workers failed.

Speaking to MT, Jim Welch, MD of Welch’s Transport (which has recently published results), said that one of the significant issues the Cambridgeshire haulier was facing was “the tightening of the driver market”, which had led to a rise in overheads.

“We have had to spend a fair amount of money to recruit drivers or stop them leaving,” he said, adding that there was a shortage of skilled labour that Welch’s had to take steps to address.

The RHA has been calling for the government to help fund driver training and licence acquisition to tackle the skills shortage.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett told MT: “The RHA could not have been clearer on this last year with massive industry backing. [Chancellor] George Osborne rejected an opportunity to support hauliers and we shall be back to the new government to limit further damage to the industry and economy.”

A number of operators have taken things into their own hands. DHL recently joined the Movement to Work scheme (MT 13 April), which will see it take on about 430

18- to 24-year-olds a year for six-week training programmes, with the option of applying for a apprenticeships with driver training after this.

Similarly, own-account operator AF Blakemore and Son, which trades as Spar, has been running a “warehouse to wheels” scheme, within which it provides driver training for employees from other areas of the business.

Gregory Distribution is also making use of apprenticeships, and recently took on four apprentice drivers.

GDL Apprentices at Cullompton 2