The freight and logistics sector is suffering a shortage of skilled drivers, according to the latest Freight Transport Association (FTA) Quarterly Transport Activity Survey (QTAS).
Sponsored by Santander Corporate Banking, the survey asked the opinion of 6,000 freight and logistics businesses in the FTA’s membership and showed almost a third of respondents are experiencing long delays when recruiting HGV drivers.
Respondents consisted mixed fleets with 85% operating vans and 93% operating HGVs, the FTA said. While 85% of respondents reported no anticipated shortage of van drivers in Q3 2017, whereas the concern surrounds HGV drivers who require an HGV licence.
The FTA reasons that the sector’s reliance on skilled HGV drivers from abroad means there’s uncertainty at present while Brexit negotiations unfold and members are keen for clarification on what the situation will be once the UK exits the EU.
Christopher Snelling, Head of National and Regional Policy at FTA, said: “At a time when British businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on an efficient supply chain, the lack of qualified drivers available to work could soon become cause for concern. And with just over 57% of respondents to QTAS also anticipating a shortage of HGV drivers moving into the second half of 2017, it is clear that the industry needs a recruitment boost to overcome the potential issues which this could cause in the long term to Britain’s ongoing profitability.”
The FTA continued that international trade via UK-based hauliers was also less buoyant than had been anticipated in April, which the FTA proposes could be due to low levels of growth in the overall economy in the second quarter of the year.
Likewise, survey respondents reported weaker growth in domestic road freight activity levels in Q1 2017 compared to the previous quarter. However, the FTA said that the survey also revealed most industrial sectors and regions were expecting reasonable growth in Q2 2017, with the majority saying they expected increased activity levels in Q3 2017.
Growth in demand for haulier hire and contract hire is expected to remain similar to the previous quarter in the next three month period, with demand for contract distribution expected to grow marginally.
Short sea, deep sea and air freight volumes are expected to grow across most trade routes in Q3 2017, the survey also found, although the FTA said this might be due to the low level of Sterling versus the US Dollar, while the anticipated rise in imports may be due to UK economy growth.
In addition, the survey found that the rail network is still more reliable than the road network, in Q2 2017.
Copies of the full QTAS report for Q2 2017 are available from www.fta.co.uk
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