The current shortage of HGV drivers has been attributed to various causes including Brexit, training and administration delays due to Covid, as well as the poor working conditions experienced by drivers when they are out on the road. All of these have contributed to an issue that has been building for a number of years. However, in my opinion, the introduction of the Driver CPC has also contributed considerably. It is a badly thought out, administratively complex requirement for employers and drivers and so while suspending it may help the ‘crisis’, the damage has already been done.

Driver CPC was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ as almost immediately upon its introduction, it caused literally thousands of drivers nearing retirement age to call it a day and retire. These were some of the best, most experienced drivers in the country and they have been discouraged from continuing to work into their later years by HM government.

It’s not the training itself that has created an issue for employers as professional businesses have always insisted on their drivers being well trained; it is key to ensuring accidents are rare, fuel economy is improved, and the overall business brand is well respected. However, introducing an extra cost, training burden and further administrative requirement has quite simply put many drivers off. Although I have to admit that the industry’s over reliance on agency drivers has meant that there are (or were) a lot of undervalued, under trained drivers that were already on the road to leaving the industry.

Suspending the Driver CPC would help in the short-term but its eventual reintroduction could simply undo the temporary good work. There is no real ‘quick fix’ here as the age profile of drivers is still a real concern and unless we collectively do something to attract new, younger entrants to the industry we are going to struggle to find drivers and warehouse staff for many years to come. The government needs to focus on ensuring trained drivers can get on the road without any unnecessary delays, licenses are renewed in a timely manner and there are no bottlenecks and hold ups on their side that increase the administrative burden. This might even mean some investment in the Civil Service and government Agencies that process these requirements.

For the rest of the industry, the businesses, employers and existing employees we need to put in the hard graft, we need to work together to invest in all of our futures, provide the training, provide an attractive working environment, provide the career opportunities and provide the rewards that make the industry attractive to the younger generation.

Ensuirng there is adequate training capacity is in our own hands and more logistics businesses need to be directly engaged in providing the required driver training and not simply rely on the market to provide the correct level of support.

At Arrow XL we have invested in our own driver training schools and are able to provide the required levels of training in-house. This has proved invaluable in the current climate and is a model that more than just the big operators should follow as nationwide training capacity should not be a bottleneck. For us, it also means that we can nurture our talent pool and build the skills and careers of our employees. They know that we are investing in them as well as our future.

So in conclusion, sadly I don’t think there is a quick fix or short-term solution but we do need to work together to solve the issues that exist across the industry, on the road and in our warehouses. After all, this is a great industry to be a part of and we all deserve a bright future.

Charlie Shiels, chief executive officer, ArrowXL