LGV and PCV Drivers
Like many other things that affect our everyday lives we have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow when we know full well that we should be doing something about them today. One example of this could be given as global warming; another is undoubtedly the driver shortage that impacts upon our industry and has done for the best part of 20 years or more. Is it wholly our industries fault that we find ourselves in such a dilemma? No not wholly, but the writing was on the wall a long time ago, and in view of the fact that drivers are the backbone of our industry, it begs the question as to why we've done so little in addressing the problem until the beginning of this millennium.
Fact - the number of new drivers entering the freight transport and logistics industry is in decline, and has been for over 20 years.
Fact - general logistics business growth and new European Union legislation has further substantially increased the size of the national LGV driver pool requirement.
So, what are we doing about it? How can we attract more drivers into the industry and what will the future hold if we can't?
Age and Eligibility
The minimum age for a driver of a goods vehicle with a permissible maximum weight (including any trailer or semi-trailer) exceeding 7.5 tonnes is 21 years, this applies whether EC or AETR rules. However, it is reduced to 18 when the vehicle does not exceed 7.5 tonnes permissible maximum gross weight or if the driver is the registered employee of a registered employer of the 'Young Drivers Scheme', or to 17 when the driver is a full or part time member of the armed forces and the vehicle is used for naval, military or airforce purposes.
There is still a driver shortage in our industry and undoubtedly many reasons for that. For those companies suffering as a result it is a difficult situation to be in, and perhaps not dissimilar to the driver 'catch 22' situation of yesteryear where a driver couldn't get an HGV class 1 job without the license, but having got the license still couldn't get a job because of a lack of experience. Companies are today faced with a similar dilemma. Unable to recruit driving staff, they look to a National recruitment agency to replace their shortfall with temporary staff whilst the recruitment process continues. However, this process is compromised because there are few (if any) drivers within the location(s) required because they're all employed on the agencies books.
As an employer and finding yourself in this situation, working with the agency in question to determine if any of their drivers are interested in full time employment with your company is an option. However, taking on drivers directly from an agency usually involves a temp/perm contract of 13 weeks.
If you've decided to work with your local agency to remedy your recruitment problem, and having fully interviewed the drivers(s) interested in joining your company and are satisfied they are exactly what you're looking for, the temp/perm period really doesn't matter. If however, you're already employing several drivers from an agency and you've a good working relationship with them, the temp/perm period duration can be negotiated down from 13 weeks to 6/8 weeks (or less), subject to:
- working relationship and annual use of the agency.
- number of drivers currently being used from them.
- the length of time the driver(s) in question have already been with you.
- flexibility of the agency management.
Using agency drivers because of a local driver shortage is in the majority of cases the only option open to you, but bear in mind this will give you other problems such as:
- agency drivers do not know your products (your clients products) or the recipient at point of delivery.
- this in turn can lead to poor productivity.
- which in turn can lead to higher costs and disappointed clients.
Many companies have been surveyed over the past decade concerning the shortage of drivers, with most surveys showing the same or similar trends. However, as a result of the expansion of the European Union, there has been an influx of foreign drivers to the UK although these drivers bring with them yet other problems, particularly that of language.
Recent surveys have indicated the following:
- the majority of companies surveyed say that recruiting drivers is either 'difficult' or very 'difficult'.
- the number of ethnic drivers in the workplace is low at around 4% to 5%.
- the number of female drivers in the workplace is still very low at between 1% and 2%, although this is slowly improving.