HGV driver shortage: the weakest link


Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are a thoroughly established and critical element of the supply chain for almost every industry. From automotive to aerospace and supermarkets to healthcare, the world runs on trucks. So, it goes without saying that a shortage of around 400,000 HGV drivers in the EU is cause for concern.

The impact of a driver shortage was made all too clear in the UK’s recent fuel crisis. Refineries were operational, storage tanks were full, trucks were ready to transport, station attendants were at the kiosk, pumps were ready to go, but nobody had fuel. Everything was in place and ready to go except one thing, drivers to transport the fuel to stations. The result? Chaos.

Partly attributed to Brexit and the exodus of foreign HGV drivers, the Road Haulage Association estimates a total UK driver shortfall of 100,000. If you ask hauliers themselves, they cite retirement, Brexit, IR35 legislation, alternative employment, pay rates and the pandemic as the key factors for the current predicament.

It is much the same story in Europe too. With an ageing driver workforce (the average age is over 50) and few young recruits, Europe is bracing for a storm of its own. Despite a larger recruitment pool thanks to the single market, the deficit is approaching half a million drivers with the worst affected locations being Poland, Germany and France.

As Europe begins to emerge from the pandemic, dropping social restrictions and kick-starting the economy, immense pressure is being placed on supply chains. The issue is only set to deepen, with some industry experts suggesting that the EU’s positive new labour laws – referred to as the Mobility Package – will cause further capacity constraints and costs as the working conditions of drivers are improved.

For manufacturers across the continent operating just-in-time delivery, any significant disruption of HGV activity would prove disastrous – it is not a problem that can be easily rectified. As the shortage looks to disrupt the EU next, having an experienced emergency logistics provider by your side is essential, ensuring that you will have the fastest possible resolution to issues as they arise. With an extensive database of suppliers across Europe, we have been able to successfully utilise multi-vehicle solutions using smaller vehicles, bypassing the requirement for HGV support. Through careful coordination and choreography, this solution effectively mitigates a significant proportion of the current supply chain risk.

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