Ministers and senior officials continue to fail to understand the Lorry driver shortage. They are publicly failing to recognise the seriousness of the problem, the long-term and short-term causes and the inadequate response from Government so far.
Lorry driving is a skilled job. No one can do it without being licensed and then subject to regular re-training through the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence system. Drivers hours are monitored through onboard tachographs and drivers are required to take mandatory rest breaks through the day.
Even though lorry driving is a skilled, difficult and responsible job, and there is a shortage that Ministers confirm is real and substantial, officials and ministers continue to take half measures too slowly.
How can it be the case that a “Shortage Occupation List” and “skilled visa system” excludes a skilled occupation that Ministers themselves state is in shortage by 76,000 drivers? These is something wrong with this system that needs to change to address staff shortages of skilled workers.
When Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng rejected calls from firms to loosen immigration rules, saying it would be a “short-term temporary solution” he was right. It could be short term and he could made it temporary, that’s a point ministers should consider. Even if a visa was available, that would not be enough to deal with the immediate problems.
Today we’re publishing our draft response to the DVSA consultation “Changes to HGV and bus driving tests and allowing car drivers to tow a trailer without an extra test”. In it we support the Government plans to change the lorry driving tests to increase the number of tests that can be provided.
We are also calling for immediate action on the Driver CPC to improve retention of existing drivers and help those who want to return to the job. We are also calling for the obstruction that is preventing Class C driver apprenticeships to end. The industry needs both Class C and Class C+E apprenticeships, it beggars belief that this is still being obstructed by the Governments Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
We urge all haulage operators to responds to the DVSA consultation survey. Our response can be found here.