The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has co-ordinated a joint campaign with other industry trade bodies calling on the government to tackle the critical labour shortages in the warehousing and logistics sector.

The call comes ahead of the conclusion of a review into the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) being carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The committee is expected to report its conclusions by March next year.

UKWA, supported by Logistics UK, BIFA, Chemical Business Association, Cold Chain Federation and RTITB, has submitted a letter to Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick MP, stating that despite "working tirelessly to recruit and train a homegrown workforce", a short to medium-term labour boost is desperately needed to support one of the fastest growing industries in the UK’s economy as it struggles to manage growing consumer demand.

The letter argues that the rise of e-commerce during the Covid-19 lockdown and the departure of immigrant logistics workers after Brexit have contributed to significantly increased pressures on the industry.

It points to the chronic shortfall in HGV drivers and the substantial drop in numbers of forklift truck drivers, despite uplift in demand for warehousing and logistics facilities and services.

Read more

UKWA chief executive Clare Bottle said: “It is important that the industry speaks with one voice on this vital issue. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) 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 Shortage Occupation List is set out in the Appendix Shortage Occupation List of the UK Immigration Rules. It 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.

In August 2022, the MAC, which typically recommends to government which occupations should be included, was asked to review the SOL for sponsoring skilled workers.

It is anticipated that the committee will report back by the end of March 2023, with a view to the implementation of any change in the autumn of the same year.