Word Worker press release:

A new government taskforce set up to tackle a chronic driver shortage in the haulage industry has been welcomed by a Hampshire-based HGV driver training company.

Easy As HGV, based in Fleet, runs 52 driver training schools throughout the UK. Its Operations Director, Kat Springle, gave evidence earlier this year to the Transport Select Committee looking into the state of the industry.

As a result of the committee’s investigation, the government has set up a taskforce, led by Transport Minister John Hayes, to monitor and coordinate progress being made towards addressing the crisis.

As the industry gears up for Christmas, its busiest time of year, The Road Haulage Association says the sector is short of drivers to the tune of 60,000, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year.

“I’ve been in the industry since 2009 and there was a driver shortage since then, which has got much more acute in recent years,” said Kat. “But I think the government is really taking notice of this now, and doing something to address it.

“Any action has to be a joint effort from the government and the industry, and this new joint group is a sign that we will be working together.”

Kat said the industry faces the issue of both recruiting drivers and retaining them. She welcomed measures which are being taken to encourage women and people from minority groups into what is traditionally a male-dominated sector but said more could be done.

“We’d like to see the government legislate to improve facilities at truck stops and also to help improve safety – both these factors, in particular, put women off.”

Kat said “Easy As HGV works closely with careers services and various agencies within the industry to promote driving as a career for school and college leavers, emphasising that driving can lead to a rewarding career in logistics.”

One historic problem, of newly qualified drivers being able to find employment, is being addressed. Easy As HGV has a link-up with Manpower recruitment services to help provide placements for new drivers. Buddy schemes are also offered by companies employing drivers, while others have lowered the minimum hiring age.

Kat said: “These are the kinds of initiatives that will help turn the situation around. The outlook is positive for the industry.