Revised data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the threshold for triggering another driver shortage crisis is lower than its original data shows.
The recently published revised statistics show the driver shortage crisis in 2021/22 was triggered by a 15% drop in driver numbers, rather than the 23% drop reported in the original data - making the possibility of another severe driver shortage much more likely, unless the industry takes immediate action.
The warning comes in Driver Require’s latest report on HGV driver supply, "The HGV driver shortage crisis: another crisis on the horizon?", which crunches the revised ONS statistics.
It points to the original ONS data which suggested a drop in 70,000 drivers would trigger another driver shortage crisis within 12 years. This calculation was based on an estimate of 12,000 retiring each year offset by about 6,000 entrants in the younger age ranges, resulting in an attrition of about 6,000 per year.
However, the revised ONS data suggests a figure of just 45,000 drivers could trigger another driver shortage crisis, which could happen within just seven years.
The report states: “Drawing from this analysis, we can derive a significant takeaway: the threshold for triggering another crisis in the HGV driver supply is lower than previously thought.
“As such, the ongoing retirement of older drivers coupled with insufficient younger replacements may precipitate another severe shortage sooner than the decade we initially predicted.
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"Where we once believed the market could withstand gradual workforce reduction, it is now evident that even small declines in driver numbers can have a disproportionate impact.
“This highlights the need for urgent action to retain younger drivers entering the workforce before demographic trends generate a new crisis. It is imperative to acknowledge that another crisis could manifest sooner than originally anticipated.”
The report warns that the accelerated timeline calls for concrete and effective action, since the data shows that even a relaticely minor deviation in HGV driver numbers could cause another driver shortage crisis. It adds: "Mere lip service won't suffice."
The report calls for swift action by both government and industry to attract and retain younger drivers to replace retiring cohorts at a faster pace than the last two decades.
“The current data signals the need to treat this issue with the urgency it demands," the report warns. "Previously we thought we could suffer a decrease of up to 25% without too much consternation, we now believe it’s closer to 15%.
"Implementing impactful measures is key before demographic trends cause another damaging driver shortage. This reduced timeframe should be of great concern.”