The government is being urged to add HGV drivers and forklift truck operators to the shortage occupation list (SOL) after Brexit and Covid-19 led to a chronic shortfall.

Trade associations have teamed up to force the government to address the shortage of skilled workers in the industry and make it understand the problem has not yet gone away.

A review of the SOL will take place shortly and business groups including Logistics UK and the UKWA said they want ministers to acknowledge the issues the industry faces as a result of the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.

Alexandra Herdman, senior policy manager at Logistics UK, said: “Logistics UK is urging government to add forklift drivers, HGV drivers – of which there is an estimated shortage of 60,000 drivers – and warehouse operatives to the SOL in relation to the skilled worker visa, as well as ensuring mechanics remain on the list.

“Industry is working hard to seek longer-terms solutions to the sector-wide shortages and recruit home-grown talent with successful initiatives such as Generation Logistics. However, the correct training takes time, and as one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK’s economy, a short to medium-term labour boost is essential.”

UKWA chief executive Clare Bottle added: “The migration advisory committee annual review of 2021 concurs with our shared view that temporary measures such as short-term visas are not a suitable solution to skills shortages, so we have requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss how we can work collectively to ensure logistics businesses are able to meet demand for services in the short to medium-term, while assuring the government of our absolute commitment to a longer term solution that is not reliant on migration.”

The SOL is set out in the appendix shortage occupation list of the UK immigration rules and details the roles that the UK government considers to be in short supply within the country’s resident labour market, with such roles afforded more relaxed eligibility criteria for sponsored work visa applications.