Temporary visas for HGV drivers are the only way to fill an immediate need for truckers if the supply chain is to continue running through the peak period, according to the RHA.

Its call for the government to change its policy on recruiting skilled people from abroad comes as research from an independent think tank found increasingly positive public attitudes towards sourcing jobs from overseas.

The scale of the problem is also highlighted in new figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which shows that 88% of recruiters are most concerned about a labour black hole, with 65% citing skills shortages as a “major concern”.

In addition, three in five recruiters said they have at least 30% more vacancies to fill than before Covid-19.

Sally Gilson, RHA policy manager, said visas were the only way the problem was going to be solved in the short term and she added: “Significant investment is being made by businesses to train UK workers, however a lack of funding within lower-level qualifications has limited the ability for people to upskill and retrain.

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“Government needs to invest in all qualification levels, not just level 3 and above.”

The recent research from British Future found the majority of the public now held favourable attitudes towards immigration and a more flexible immigration system.

Two thirds (65%) agreed that employers should be allowed to recruit from overseas for roles in shortage.

Kate Shoesmith, deputy chief executive at the REC, said worker shortages were a huge problem for employers across all industries and regions: “Government must allow more flexibility in the immigration system so firms can hire essential workers like drivers from abroad, and also improve training opportunities for lower-paid and temporary workers,” she said.

“Meanwhile companies need to focus on how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions and facilities, not just pay.”