The driver shortage crisis is still affecting almost two thirds (64%) of operators, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILTUK), with driver shortages more than doubling in the North East, Yorkshire & Humber, East of England and Scotland since 2015.

The CILT driver Shortage Crisis Survey 2022, published this week, compared its findings to its previous driver shortage report published in 2015.

The survey found that the sector is continuing to fail to attract younger drivers with the average driver age rising to 50.5 years, compared with an average driver age of 47 years in 2015.

Less than half of respondents (46.5%) are training new drivers with 45% reporting that they are currently recruiting trainee drivers. The survey also revealed that 39% of respondents are turning to veterans to boost driver numbers.

Participants listed unsociable hours (77%), poor industry image (53%) and long hours (50%), together with a fall in the number of European drivers (49%), an ageing driver workforce (47%), poor wages (45%), and poor facilities (42%) as the key factors creating the driver shortage.

Interestingly CILT’s previous survey in 2015 found that the cost of getting a licence (60%) and the Driver CPC (57%), were the top two reasons given for a shortage of drivers – two factors cited by only 31% and 29% respectively in 2022.

The vast majority of respondents believe the government should do more to tackle the crisis, with 92% believing the government is not doing enough to deal with the issue and 51% calling for more engagement with government bodies.

Another 67% said there should be improved funding, whilst 73% said government should take action to improve the industry’s image. Equally, 73% also said that the industry itself should work on improving the image.

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The report suggests one action the government could take is to make it easier to hire foreign drivers. It notes that the numbers of European drivers working in the UK post-Brexit has fallen significantly, adding that this “presents a compelling case to seek special exemptions across the transport sector.”

However the industry also needs to try harder, with the survey finding evidence that poor management is acting as a deterrent to working in the sector.

Mark Bentley, senior lecturer in supply chain management at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “There is also an undercurrent of dissatisfaction of drivers in how they are treated by Traffic Office staff.

“There are instances of where agency drivers, in particular, avoid working for some companies where they are not treated with respect in their interaction with Traffic Office operations. Training of Transport Office staff and demanding a more customer approach for driver interactions is something that needs to be considered.”

He added: “There are still a number of employers who are not seriously engaged with such issues. I appreciate it is extremely tough economically in running road haulage operations but there can be no compromise in not paying a good rate of pay and providing good terms and conditions.”

Bentley said that improving terms and conditions is an “imperative to recruiting and retaining employees.”

The report also recommends that the industry works more closely with schools and colleges to promote the sector and suggests CILT and other industry bodies offer more careers advice in schools and colleges and better promote the benefits of the industry. It also recommends they set up more working groups with government and work more closely with the MoD and its leavers.

Bentley said: “These solutions are within the current remit of operators themselves. Funding, as an example, is already available through subsidies for apprenticeships - 95% for non-levy organisations - along with Bootcamp funding from the government.”