The FTA has warned that the supply chain is “set to disintegrate” if the status of European workers within the UK’s logistics sector is not settled as part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Referencing the latest  UK unemployment figures published by the Office of National Statistics, the FTA called on the government to provide clarity on the working position for EU nationals after the UK leaves the union.

Sally Gilson, FTA’s head of skills, said: “Logistics is the nation’s unsung hero industry, which keeps food on the shelves, medicines in our hospitals and raw materials in our factories.

"As consumers, we just expect goods and services to be in place when we need them.  In fact, logistics businesses keep Britain trading."

But this situation could change drastically if the government does not allow continued access to seasonal workers, the FTA warned.

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According to the association, 43,000 HGV drivers, 30,000 van drivers and 113,000 warehouse EU workers help to keep the UK supply chain moving.

"However, due to the seasonal nature of logistics, access to temporary staff is crucial and this gap has been filled by many EU workers. We know the plan for those EU workers wanting to gain settled status but not for those who come to the UK for seasonal work – the ones which businesses rely on to keep goods and services flowing,” she added.

There are currently more than 52,000 vacancies for HGV drivers in the UK alone.

The FTA believes apprenticeships of a better quality could considerably help.

“Logistics is being seriously hindered by a lack of specialist, appropriate apprenticeships.  Although the sector has worked hard to develop appropriate qualifications, the process is being prolonged by the Institute for Apprenticeship’s bad administration.

"We have been waiting for vital new standards to be approved for a year now and without them, businesses are prevented from spending their levy monies appropriately.  The government’s own target of three million apprenticeship starts will continue to be unattainable until the apprenticeship system is overhauled to deliver what business needs.”