Nearly a quarter of lorry drivers expect to leave the industry in the next three years, according to the largest ever survey of HGV drivers by Pertemps.
The findings of a survey of more than 2,500 existing HGV licence holders will further fan the flames of the current driver shortages that continue to disrupt the UK supply chain.
In total, 24% said it was unlikely they would still be driving in three years’ time, with 68% of those saying it was down to poor conditions of life as a lorry driver.
“I literally was bowled over by the starkness of how these people feel,” said John Poliquin, Director of Pertemps Driving Academy.
“Yes, I’ve always understood money, salary and earnings potential would be up there as a high point, but the other findings about how they are going to stay in the industry, how they are going to feel valued, those stats were shocking.
Earlier this year, Pertemps Driving Academy was inundated with 10,000 applications after it offered free HGV driver training worth £5,000.
Mr Poliquin said that more needs to happen to not just recruit but keep them on.
He said: “I think it’s important to put it out there to people, employers and the public and try and prick people’s conscious to say, value these people for what they do and have done all through the pandemic.
“There has to be that level of respect, that level of professionalism and we need to show the value that they have to us as a business, with our clients, with our consultants and within the greater network.
“What this survey shows is that we need to focus on the three Rs – reward, recognition and respect – to attract and retain drivers.”
Half of those interviewed for the Pertemps HGV Driver Wants and Needs survey said they had always wanted to be a truck driver, but 22 per cent of those were no longer working in driving roles, highlighting a “leaky pipeline” in the supply of qualified drivers.
Drivers pointed out the disconnect between signs at the front of stores saying that they won’t tolerate abuse to staff while, in the delivery bay at the back, they are treated poorly by the client.
In all, 92% said they did not feel their role was valued enough by the general public and 69% disagreed that pay and conditions were good.
Lisa Thurkettle, Managing Director at Pertemps, said: “I am disappointed that 20% of the surveyed drivers no longer work in the industry and what a wasted opportunity that is.
“Out of that, only a small proportion of them might be retired. You look at that and think, well that’s a big cohort of individuals that have that skill and ability and are choosing not to do that job anymore, and if we all did something differently could we have retained them?
“So, I think that’s something I’m disappointed to see and I think I want to really work hard at seeing what we can all do differently to retain that skillset.
“What was really interesting was that 93% of the individuals surveyed came from a white ethnic background, which clearly identifies that we are underrepresented in other groups. Not just from ethnic backgrounds, but also females, and I think there needs to be a lot more work done to make sure that every group is fairly represented.
The survey was conducted with 2,522 HGV licence holders in August and September 2021.
The survey comes amid a flurry of measures designed to stem the driver shortage by simplifying HGV testing, offering short-term visas, offering ‘golden hello’ incentives and widening HGV apprenticeship schemes.
Stephen Holliday, Chief Executive of financial technology firm Level, said that the problem is not just about wage hikes but a longer term look at how drivers are paid so that the industry stays competitive.
He said: “The crisis has caused a huge push in just getting anyone with an HGV licence to work on demand to cover the shortage. This is understandable and a sensible strategy. But if shortages are going to continue and ‘on-demand work’ is going to be the most used form of employment in this industry, drivers should expect ‘on-demand pay.
“Drivers should be paid like they are in other related industries in general logistics – food delivery, taxi services, parcel delivery etc.
“It then also makes the job description so much more enticing. If one of the key benefits of the role is on-demand pay, it may attract more people to apply for the job.
“It’s also because of all the other related driving roles offering such a service that haulage roles are considerably uncompetitive.
“It’s time for a more long-term strategy in the haulage industry to encourage more people to take up the profession and to stay in the industry for longer. Employers need to adapt, use the relevant technologies, and look at ‘how’ rather than simply ‘how much’ when it comes to the way drivers are paid. This is the way we avoid further crises and we ensure the haulage industry survives and thrives.”
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