Why is there a shortage of drivers?
Over the past few months, many companies have reported difficulties hiring truck drivers, leading to empty supermarket shelves and forcing restaurants to cut down on their menus.
James Wroath, who runs Wincanton, one of Britain’s largest transport companies, says there are several reasons for the shortage.
During the pandemic, thousands of British drivers from Europe returned to the continent to be closer to their families and are yet to return. Some also left after Brexit.
He also argues that the working conditions of heavy truck drivers made it difficult to induce the remaining drivers to take over roles, which often require long hours and sleeping in rest areas during journeys.
Meanwhile, a backlog of new drivers waiting to take their tests is hampering recruitment, with thousands stuck in the system. The government recently sought to address the issue by streamlining the testing process so that candidates do not have to take multiple tests before they can drive different classes of trucks.
However, industry groups warn that this is “no quick fix” – particularly with pass rates of 56 pc and only 3,000 people per week able to pass their tests under the new regime.