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The job of an HGV driver is not eligible for the Shortage Occupation List and the industry needs to focus instead on filling roles from the ballooning UK unemployed, according to the government.

There have been growing calls for truckers to be added to a list of occupations where there is a dire shortage, but in a response to a recent question from MP Jonathan Edwards about what assessment the government has made, Home Office minister Kevin Foster said it was not possible.

He said: “Upon advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the government broadened the eligibility of skilled worker visas from graduate jobs only to include jobs skilled to RQF level 3 - roughly equivalent to A-levels - and lowered the salary threshold to £25,600.

“The MAC found the job of HGV driver does not meet this threshold, so it is not eligible to be sponsored for a skilled worker visa and cannot be added to the shortage occupation list.”

Foster added: “Like other sectors the focus should be on training and recruiting from the UK-based workforce in the first instance, especially given the impact of the pandemic resulting in more looking for secure new employment.

“Immigration policy will be considered alongside strategies to do this, not separately or as an alternative to doing so.”

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Logistics UK said it wanted HGV driver training to be made affordable, accessible and attractive to all, given the current high national unemployment rate.

Its research showed 29% of logistics businesses anticipate they will be unable to fill HGV driver vacancies this year and 14.5% expect long delays before filling roles.

Alex Veitch, Logistics UK public policy manager, said: “With the logistics industry in urgent need of these workers, Logistics UK is urging the government to include training for HGV drivers in their list of courses funded through the National Skills Fund, to reskill potential employees and help recruit them into the

He added: “Logistics UK is also urging the DVSA to maintain its fast-track programme to catch-up on at least 30,000 driving tests that were postponed due to Covid-19 between March and December 2020.”

The call came following a meeting between the RHA, the Unite union and Baroness Vere to highlight the growing crisis in the HGV driving jobs market.

The RHA said it raised issues around driver training and apprenticeships, the Driver CPC and short-term access to non-UK labour.