The UK is short of an estimated 100,000 Heavy Carrier (HGV) drivers for a variety of reasons, including industry wage issues and driver retirement.
The industry has also seen a shortage of new hires to take over jobs that are seen as unattractive prospects due to poor working conditions.
The pandemic has pushed the supply chain to its limits as the pool of truck drivers shrinks and the demand for transportation increases.
British ministers have denied that the crisis has something to do with Brexit and have raised driver shortages as a global issue, but other European neighbors have not experienced gas station queues.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday: “HGV drivers are not a UK issue, but a European issue as a whole, and beyond. We do everything we can to mitigate some of these challenges that can make a difference. I want people to know what they are doing. “
According to the Road Haulage Association, it is estimated that half of the registered HGV license holders have left the industry and 16-20,000 foreign drivers have returned since Brexit, with about 40,000 driving tests canceled due to a pandemic. it was done. Poor roadside equipment, including a serious shortage of roadside toilets and showers, is also a problem.
Similar problems related to wages and poor working conditions mean that many EU countries are facing a similar shortage of HGV drivers. Poland is the most severely affected in the UK and is the second closest. The shortage in Europe as a whole is estimated to be 400,000.
Logistics analyst Transport Intelligence said Me: “The most affected European countries are Poland, the United Kingdom and Germany. The United Kingdom is not only wrestling with Brexit, but also raising concerns about blockades, causing many European workers to go through the pandemic process. I’m in a particularly difficult position because I’m leaving. ”
How the shortage of HGV drivers will affect other countries
According to Transport Intelligence, according to 2020 data, Poland’s shortage is estimated to be 124,000.
Last year there was a shortage of 45,000 to 60,000 HGV drivers in Germany. According to the forecast for 2024, this number will increase to 185,000 by 2027.
According to Transport Intelligence, France has faced a shortage of about 43,000 drivers since 2019.
It is estimated that there will be a shortage of about 15,000 drivers in Italy since 2019.
Spain’s estimate is 15,340, which is shown in 2020.
Sweden faces a shortage of 5,000, Norway 3,000 and Denmark 2,500, but no data have been reported in these countries since 2017.
What Causes Britain’s Problems?
The UK has become one of Europe’s largest driver shortages due to the unique combination of the UK, which has a long-term imbalance in import and export demand, and recent factors such as the impact on pandemic testing and the withdrawal of European drivers. I am.
Nick Bailey, Head of Research for Transport Intelligence, said: Me: “There are a few more problems in the UK, partly due to the way the economy resumes after the pandemic. Currently, the demand is very high. Partly related to the lack of testing capacity.
“It has something to do with geographical isolation. For decades we have imported much more from Europe and then exported to Europe.
“That is, it was already this strange situation that carriers had to set prices on the empty route on their way back from the UK, and it wasn’t the best place to do business.
“If you also take out a driver who was an EU national in the UK who chose to return but did not return or did not return after the pandemic, you would be taking more drivers out of the UK driver pool.
“The reason it’s not so serious elsewhere is that it’s part of an international driver who is very capable and motivated to transport goods around accessible areas in mainland Europe and the EU.”
How much is Brexit’s fault?
Most experts say Brexit exacerbated the problem, but it’s not the main cause.
Bailey said: It’s not a big factor, we’re talking about thousands, it’s getting worse and enough to add extra challenges. I can’t say that Brexit isn’t influential, but I can’t say that Brexit is responsible for this.
“I think the supply of drivers is important. It’s quite different in mainland Europe. The supply of drivers is not just about domestic drivers, but how much travel between countries. In a particular country. Drivers in other parts of Europe, or who can work between certain countries, are not only domestically involved in the market.
“The UK has always been in a difficult situation because of that, as a result of how the economy resumed and demand in the UK.”
He added: “Because of this different position in the European supply chain, the UK has far less volume with any European country.
“Finding the right and attractive business conditions for the UK is a business challenge, as we can find volume in the UK and abroad and are not ready to serve drivers happily.”
What is the government doing to solve it?
Last week, the UK government announced that it would provide EU truck drivers with 5,000 temporary visas for three months to make it easier for foreign drivers to work in the UK.
The government said 300 fuel tanker drivers could come to the UK “immediately” from abroad under a custom-made temporary visa that lasts until March as the lines continue at gas stations across the country.
Approximately 4,700 visas for foreign food drivers have also been extended beyond the originally announced three months, lasting from late October to the end of February.
The Minister of Transport has also sent a letter to one million HGV license holders asking them to consider returning to the sector.
Which other parts of the world are affected?
There is also a shortage in the United States and Asia. “European airlines aren’t the only ones facing these challenges. There are shortages in many places. I think there are tens of thousands of drivers shortages in the United States,” Bailey said.
“Most Asian countries probably have shortages. China is one example. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia also have these challenges in terms of labor shortages.”