Driver agency boss critical of press, politicians & trade associations over driver shortages
In an article published in & lsquo;The Mail On-Line’ the FTA was quoted as claiming 20,000 drivers had taken early retirement or moved to different jobs since the Certificate of Professional Competence became mandatory in September.
The Mail article included commentary (purportedly from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills) that the “EU’s new training rules mean the logistics industry is 60,000 drivers short.”
Waldron thinks this type of commentary is misleading and unhelpful.
“We are the largest supplier of temporary LGV drivers in the UK and extremely close to the UK’s driving pool. Of our 3,500 drivers only 70 said they will not complete the CPC training. At a time of intense shortage this new qualification hurdle is not helpful – but is not the reason we are critically short of drivers.”
Waldron sees the shortage of drivers coming from a cocktail of causes ranging from the culture of the industry, the absence of schemes to attract young people into driving, a failure by all concerned to find a path for newly qualified drivers to make their way through to jobs and unspoken barriers of gender.
Using the CPC qualification as the reason for the shortage is argued by Waldron as being simply inaccurate.
“What we know is there is a pool of qualified drivers who are not active drivers and have chosen different career paths. Clearly these people saw no need to complete the CPC training. Their decision to leave driving as a career was taken some time ago. What we need to be doing is asking why these drivers left the profession in the first instance – not use them as an unhelpful statistic with which to divert blame.”
Until an integrated approach to the structural shortage of drivers is adopted Waldron sees a sustained operational squeeze in the supply chain. Agencies do not have the spare capacity to meet peak demands being placed on them which may well cause problems at Christmas, Easter and summer holiday periods. Waldron is pessimistic.
“We have nasty cocktail of long term entrenched cultural barriers to valuing driving as a profession, long lead-times and cost obstacles to training, and a lack of leadership or political will to tackle the problem. In a way we all own this problem. There is plenty of chat about the issue but there is a distinct shortage of sustained, integrated action to tackle the problem. Blaming the CPC hurdle is misinformed and will not help us solve a much bigger problem.”