With an ongoing shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, the government is keen to ensure the UK supply chain continues to thrive and therefore is asking for views on how to bring more people to logistics as a career path.
Ideas Already Floated
At the beginning of August, it launched some ideas and asked for evidence on how it could better create opportunities for people wishing to begin a career in logistics. They have already suggested that there could be a formalised registration of HGV driving instructors who would be required to publish their past rates. This would mean driver training standards for HGV licences should improve with a knock-on effect of better road safety and a positive public face of the profession. And they are also trying to find out the opinions of people on whether mechanics, provided they hold an HGV license already, should be able to take vehicles on the road for repair purposes, particularly coaches and buses.
A discussion around grandfather rights is also taking place. Before January 1997, if you passed your car driving test, you were automatically able to drive minibuses and vehicles up to 8.25 tons. This right was removed by the EU, and now the government wants to explore whether people with a standard car license might be able to drive small lorries up to 7.5 tons without further training. They haven’t ruled out restrictions, so perhaps drivers would have to be over 21 or have a minimum of five years of experience, but they want the conversation to be open and gather people's views.
Changes Already in Place
Thirty-three actions have already been undertaken in an attempt to improve the situation and reduce the HGV driver shortage. So far, things appear to be going well, and there has been a steady increase in the amount of HGV driving tests undertaken and passed this year. It is already positively impacting the sector and helping to reduce pressure on the supply chain. Karl McCartney, the UK’s Transport Minister, said, “Our country has a robust supply chain, and our ongoing and unprecedented support for the haulage sector means that the number of HGV drivers is stabilising. We continue looking for ways to make it easier and quicker to kickstart a rewarding career in logistics. That’s why we’re asking people for their views on how we could streamline the licensing process and remove any potential barriers – making the most of our post-Brexit freedoms.”
Industry experts are welcoming the opportunity to take part in the review of HGV licensing regulations. Most seem to approve the mechanics driving vehicles for public service maintenance and repair. And they are looking at the other potential initiatives so they can give an opinion on those. Generally, it seems like these are very positive steps forward and the changes already implemented are having an impact on easing driver shortages and supply chain worries.