The majority of HGV drivers are sceptical about there being an industry-wide shortage of drivers and have branded it as “scaremongering”, according to research carried out by SNAP.

However, the RHA cautioned that although the skills shortage had stabilised, this was largely due to freight movements having dropped rather than enough professional drivers being available.

SNAP said it asked truckers to respond to a recent government consultation about measures to plug the skills gap.

The department for transport acknowledged that the pandemic had delayed 30,000 tests for new drivers and Brexit had affected haulage firms, with many European drivers leaving the country.

Concerns had also been raised over an ageing workforce and not enough new entrants being available to replace retiring drivers.

But SNAP said: “Despite this, 72.5% of drivers disagreed with the statement regarding the driver shortage, explaining there isn’t one.”

However, there was an acknowledgement that people were avoiding joining the industry: “Of the 72.5% - 28% suggested low pay steered experienced drivers away and did not provide enough incentive for new applicants,” SNAP said.

It added that it had received many comments contradicting the notion that lorry drivers are paid more than the average worker, with responses such as: “I have an HGV license but no desire to use it. I currently earn more per hour as a driving instructor. It’s not a driver shortage at all,” and: “Pay the drivers more money and give them better facilities.”

Other comments from drivers included: “I’ve held a class one for seven months and can’t get a job. I’d love to know where the shortage is,” and: “What shortage? There’s not much work up for grabs.”

A lack of facilities and the Driver CPC were also cited as reasons why qualified drivers had left the industry.

The RHA’s MD Richard Smith told Motor Transport that a bigger issue now was the shortage of HGV technicians, but he added that the driver shortage was being masked by economic conditions: “Although the HGV driver shortage has stabilised and is not currently the main skills shortage in our sector, this is in part because freight movements are down at the moment between 5-10%,” he said.

“If there’s a sharp upturn, this could have an impact on the availability of drivers and as an industry, we must always be mindful of that.

“We must continue to work to attract and retain new recruits and existing HGV drivers back into the sector.

“Longer-term, we’ll need to ensure there’s a future pipeline of skilled drivers ready and able to support the supply chain in the years ahead.”

Smith added: “Drivers require secure conditions where they can rest and recuperate. A lack of safe and secure parking and facilities can impact driver physical health, mental health and wellbeing.

“There’s no doubt that as a result, this can have an impact on recruitment and retention.”

Matthew Bellamy, SNAP MD said the feedback from drivers was “invaluable” and he added: “From the responses, it’s clear that the industry must change in multiple areas to retain and attract more HGV drivers.

“With 185,000+ drivers using our network, we will continue to raise awareness regarding the challenges drivers face within an industry that is forever evolving.”

Most drivers do not believe there is a driver shortage

Most drivers do not believe there is a driver shortage

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