Trade associations have welcomed the announcement that the Transport Committee has launched an investigation into skills and workforce planning in the road haulage industry.

The investigation, announced at the end of last week, will address what the government has or has not done to tackle the UK’s HGV driver shortage.

The select committee said it was looking to hear evidence from the DfT on: whether there is a shortage and the extent to which it is affecting the industry; the role of the government in recruiting and supporting a diverse workforce; the role of Driver CPC in improving industry employees’ skills and professionalism; aspects of government policies which may deter potential recruits and the conditions of roadside facilities for drivers stopping both overnight and during the day.

The RHA's director of policy Jack Semple said he was pleased with the announcement, but that he believed there were still obstacles to the road transport industry's progress after the "shambles" of the trailblazer apprenticeship, which was rejected by for government funding last month.

He said: “We think the questions they are asking are to the point. We also believe that the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) is an obstacle in terms of the progression and development of UK skills. Their management of the Trailblazer apprenticeship progress has been a shambles and their insistence that the will not fund driver licence acquisition has to change.”

Semple said the RHA continued to press the case for a U-turn in regards the UK government’s broader refusal to listen to the association’s call for any form of driver licence acquisition funding.

He added that the government was doing nothing to tackle the skills shortage in haulage despite its impact on the economy, and in spite of its own Home Office minister, James Brokenshire, recently lambasting UK businesses for being too reliant on foreign workers. “We agree,” said Semple, “yet they are doing nothing to encourage a change.”

FTA chief executive David Wells also voiced his support for the investigation. He said: “FTA is delighted that the Transport Committee is going to investigate the lack of skilled drivers as this has been an important issue for our members who have been concerned about this for some time.

“In our recent conversations with MPs we have emphasised the real problems the logistics sector is having in attracting new recruits and suggested that government and the industry need to work together to find solutions which enable us to keep delivering the goods for the UK economy.”

BIS recently called on the industry to make another Trailblazer bid.