“Help us to help you” was the message when the RHA delivered a petition to Downing Street last week (18 June) calling on the prime minister and chancellor to sign off on a £150m HGV driver training fund in next month’s emergency budget.Faced with a driver shortage of more than 45,000 drivers – and conscious that 35,000 more are estimated to retire within the next two years – the RHA believes the situation is deteriorating fast.

Its chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The RHA represents UK hauliers who, between them, operate over 100,000 heavy goods vehicles.

“We are now facing an unprecedented and critical shortage of qualified truck drivers. Current retirement levels and low levels of new entrants to the industry are creating a perfect storm.

burnett downing street

Richard Burnett delivers the petition to No.10

“The cost of training to be a truck driver is very high – typically some £3,000. This is a serious barrier for individuals wishing to train up.”

Lesley O’Brien, director at Bradford-based Freightlink Europe and part of the delegation, employs 25 drivers and said the phone had not stopped ringing in recent months as the UK economic situation had continued to recover.

“Finding good drivers is difficult. We had a tie-up with our local army centre but that’s drying up now too. We’ve trained up staff to drive artics but that’s then left us short at 7.5t level. At the moment we can’t fulfil demand,” she said.

Steve Bowles, director of Roy Bowles Transport near Heathrow, told MT he had just taken on a 72-year old driver such was the paucity of candidates. “We have about 40 drivers and have been operating around 10% under our ideal headcount for some time.

“The introduction of Driver CPC has meant we no longer see the casuals we previously relied on. If we got this fund we could look at doing more training with a partner to begin tackling this,” said Bowles.

  • The push came as research commissioned by MAN amongst 1,000 people aged 16 to 30, found just 3.4% had been advised to follow a career in road transport while in education. When asked if a careers advisor had ever suggested driving a truck for a living, 88% replied no.