So, the government has another genius solution to wreck the transport industry further through changes to the cabotage rules. All these 'solutions' will not fix the industry, they will harm it further.
A quick fix to the driver shortage does not exist. The problem took many years to manifest itself, so the solution will take time to resolve it and may take as long.
The influx of EU drivers and operators to the UK delayed and, to a point, hid the issue. The transport industry will never be able to sort these issues without education and support of the government, media and public.
The industry is not wanted; cities, towns and villages do everything they can to prevent trucks entering them. Drivers are treated like third class citizens with ever reducing access to facilities. Planners and developers make no provision for truck parking when building distribution centres. Infrastructure planning makes no provision for this either. As more truck parks shut, no alternatives are considered.
No other UK industry works without the transport industry, the whole UK economy is totally reliant on transport and those that work in it.
The government must work with the industry to educate the country on the vital work it does, to gain the respect it deserves and for transport and the public to work and live side by side.
Our consumer economy is only possible due to transport. Containerisation enabled the concept of consumerism, to enable goods to be moved quicker, cheaper and far more securely. Consumers now expect unlimited choice at reasonable prices, but they do not want to recognise, embrace or accept the mechanism that makes it possible.
Transport is not shown to be an aspirational or even worthy career. Even in Felixstowe, the home to the country’s largest container port, the local schools do nothing to teach or educate their pupils on the careers available in the industry and where the majority of their children will end up working.
Consumers want immediate access to innumerable goods but they do not want to share the roads with trucks, have truck stops in or near their domiciles, avoid contact with trucks drivers wherever and certainly do not want their children becoming truck drivers…
Worthy, aspirational and socially acceptable jobs are pushed by schools, the media and popular opinion including vocational jobs like nursing, teaching, farming, building, engineering and care work.
Driving a truck is a vocation, a selfless job for the benefit of others under what can be difficult and unpleasant conditions, just like those listed above. All drivers ask for is the respect and consideration they undoubtedly deserve along with other vocational careers.
Money is not the answer to the driver shortage, it’s a basic human need to feel appreciated and be respected by those they serve. Do that, and the shortage will disappear.
Cabotage will just cheapen the industry and damage an already poor reputation further.
Gary Austin, training and development manager - DGSA