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The industry is facing a new shortage in essential fleet skills as companies restructure their businesses in the wake of the pandemic, FleetCheck has warned.

The fleet software specialist has reported growing instances of managers with fleet expertise being made redundant or moved into new roles, often leaving responsibility in the hands of people who have relatively limited experience.

MD Peter Golding said: “Long-time watchers of the fleet industry will know that this tends to happen during recessions. There is pressure to cut costs, leading to staff reorganisations and redundancies that inevitably result in corporate de-skilling.

“We’re starting to see this occur at the moment and it will almost certainly create a noticeable vacuum of fleet skills over the next couple of years, as people who newly find themselves in positions of responsibility for company transport have to learn the basics.

“It’s a difficult moment and it is sad to see that some people are losing their jobs, but it is also probably an unavoidable effect of the ongoing crisis of the last few months.”

Golding said that, to an extent, companies working in the fleet sector had a duty to provide a degree of assistance to those who found themselves with new fleet responsibilities.

“There are really two aspects to this," he said. "One is an ethical point of view, that fleet suppliers should be helping businesses as much as possible, even if that means going quite some distance beyond the normal level of what you are contracted to provide. As people, we are all in this crisis together and we should all pull together. This is especially important when it comes to fleet health and safety.

“The other angle is a business one. Where a company has been forced to deskill, it undoubtedly creates new opportunities for fleet suppliers to step in and offer appropriate services that will fill that vacuum.”

FleetCheck is developing a number of initiatives designed to help those affected by the new fleet skills shortage, he added, and these will be launched within the next two months.

“We’ve spent most of 2020 working to meet the rapidly changing needs of our customers and others across the fleet sector through the different phases of the coronavirus situation, providing relevant information, appropriate guidance and new products. That’s something we very much plan to continue into the future.”