The government and Logistics UK will launch a new initiative to attract more people into the haulage industry as part of continued efforts to plug a skills gap.

Speaking to MPs on the Transport Select Committee, secretary of state Grant Shapps (pictured) said the work it had done to help resolve the driver shortage had already “massively assisted” the sector.

The transport secretary was responding to a question about what the government’s current estimate was of the total number of professional drivers needed in the UK.

Shapps said it was “much, much smaller” than the 60,000-80,000 figures widely relied on by haulage groups: “We clearly had a difficulty with the shortage of HGV drivers, as did every developed country in the world,” he said.

“We have introduced in this country 33 measures now in order to tackle that driver shortage, including making a series of changes which I would not have been able to make as secretary of state without the freedoms we have got post-Brexit, which has massively assisted.”

Shapps added: “I am not saying there’s not a shortage still; we’re still working very hard and because of that we are working with Logistics UK to have ‘Generation Logistics’ launched.

“It’s a programme to attract yet more people to this sector, which is paying better and we are improving facilities with £34m as well.”

Logistics UK was not immediately available to discuss the campaign.