IS THE LACK OF ROADSIDE FACILITIES PRESENTING A MAJOR BARRIER TO DRIVER RECRUITMENT?
A Twitter poll by the FTA found 71% of respondents wouldn’t encourage their children to become truck drivers despite a critical shortage in the logistics industry.
There is an estimated shortfall of around 45,000 HGV drivers across the UK and the average age of those in the industry is over 45. A new Transport Committee report said current measures in place weren’t enough to solve the crisis and Government and industry must work together to find solutions.
But what are the barriers to young people taking up careers in logistics? The perception of long hours and low pay are certainly factors, and the cost of licence acquisition can put it beyond reach for some. But new advances mean drivers have technology at their fingertips and modern trucks are comfortable and well-equipped.
However, roadside facilities present a major barrier – especially for female drivers. FTA has long been campaigning for more purpose-built lorry parks throughout the county, and especially in Kent, to allow drivers to take required breaks somewhere safe and secure with adequate toilet and washroom facilities. Currently drivers are forced to find places to stop, often at roadsides and in country lanes, where there are no such facilities. And when they make delivery stops they are frequently refused use of toilets because they are locked or security doesn’t allow it.
Only one per cent of HGV drivers in the UK are women, and attracting them into the industry is a challenge when facilities are so poor. Sally Gilson, the FTA’s skills policy development manager, says: “Can you think of any other job where such a basic need as toilets is an issue? It’s just not acceptable that this has become the norm for HGV drivers – it’s no wonder that young people aren’t interested.
“The FTA has been lobbying the Government to invest in decent facilities. We sometimes receive complaints from residents about lorries parked overnight near their homes but while we sympathise, we explain that drivers legally have to stop after a designated number of hours and without proper facilities they have no choice but to park at the roadside.” Crisis summits have been held by the FTA over the past two years to explore recruitment problems and it has a partnership with Think Logistics to encourage young people into the industry, but until basic facilities for lorry drivers are improved it’s hard to see how they’ll be attracted to the job.