Recent findings from SNAP, the digital marketplace for the haulage industry, indicate a critical situation emerging in response to escalating online delivery demands and a dearth of new entrants to the profession. A tipping point has been reached, characterised by an insufficient number of qualified drivers to meet the current needs of the haulage sector.
SNAP Analysis Results Revealed
According to SNAP's analysis, more than half (55%) of drivers fall within the 50-64 age bracket, with the UK's average age being 53. This suggests that a significant portion of truckers will be approaching retirement in the coming decade.
Myra McPartlin, Head of Commercial at SNAP, underscores the challenges faced by the industry, citing the longstanding issue of retaining HGV drivers in the UK. When compounded with the repercussions of Brexit and the heightened demand for delivery services post-pandemic, the industry's sustainability is under threat. The diminishing number of new drivers entering the field, coupled with those exiting, places the industry at a precarious juncture.
Online Shopping Deliveries Contribute to Increase
The surge in demand is attributed in part to the upswing in online shopping and food deliveries. Notably, meal deliveries have reached 39.2 million in 2023, with grocery deliveries totalling 24.2 million. Projections estimate these figures will rise to 50.6 million and 31.2 million, respectively, by 2027.
Despite the evident need for more drivers, statistics from Nomis, sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveal a decrease of 6,000 delivery and courier drivers in the UK from April 2022 to March 2023 compared to the previous year. Paradoxically, job openings in the 'transport, logistics, and warehouse sectors are on the rise, with 150, 166, and 169 positions available at the end of May, June, and August, respectively.
In response to the heightened demand, the UK government implemented various measures during the pandemic, including the relaxation of late-night delivery restrictions until September 2022, the addition of 4,700 HGV drivers to the visa scheme, the introduction of apprenticeships and boot camps for training, and a review of HGV parking and facilities.
HGV Vital for the UK Economy
Richard Owen-Hughes, Group Marketing Director at Driver Hire, emphasises the crucial role of the HGV industry in the UK economy. He highlights the imminent challenge of an ageing driver population and underscores the urgency of attracting younger and more diverse talent. The government's Skills Bootcamp program is commended for making a career as a professional HGV driver more accessible.
Myra McPartlin further emphasises the need to consider driver safety alongside adequate parking spaces. Safety concerns are a significant deterrent for potential drivers, and prioritising safety measures can contribute to both driver well-being and retention. SNAP Access and Security (A&S) is actively engaged in enhancing driver safety, collaborating with service partners to provide security details via the Intruck app, enabling drivers to make informed decisions about where to rest safely and maintain focus on the road.