More than 67,000 employees working in the logistics sector are regarded as not being proficient in their jobs, according to a report by a government advisory body.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) also said that a shortage of HGV drivers means more staff and younger workers are required to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technology in the road transport sector, otherwise many firms risk being left behind by competitors.

The report stated: “Although the vast majority of employers consider their workforce to be proficient, some 67,339 logistics employees are regarded as not being proficient in their job roles, or as having skills gaps.

"The proportion of logistics employers reporting skills gaps has increased since 2011, going against the national trend which saw a decrease.

“This may indicate a growing problem with the skills levels of the existing workforce.”

It also criticised the mind-set of employers in terms of accredited qualifications: “There is a deep-seated fear that providing accredited training will see the individual leave the firm; the development of positive, sector-specific case studies could help to counteract such perceptions.”

The report revealed that a third of the sector’s vacancies were described by employers as “hard-to-fill” and more investment was needed to attract young people into the industry.

Douglas McCormick, UKCES Commissioner, said: “As more than 60% of goods in the UK are moved by road, driver shortages would cause serious knock-on effects to the rest of the economy. It is vital, therefore, that employers ensure they are investing in training and recruiting new talent into the sector to provide a steady stream of skilled workers in the years to come.”

Sally Gilson, the Freight Transport Association’s skills policy development manager, said she was surprised by the 67,000 figure but that she agreed with most of the report’s findings.

“Current frameworks available are not considered fit for purpose for many organisations, with most training being given as a result of a statutory requirement,” she said. “If we want to encourage people into the sector then we need to professionalise it and move away from the concern that if we train someone then they will be poached and leave.”