How we’re dealing with the truck driver shortage

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Earlier this year, the Road Haulage Association issued a stark warning about an industry-wide shortage of qualified haulage specialists. Citing a lack of national investment in licensed and qualified HGV drivers, it touted a 60,000 driver shortfall being likely by March of 2017. At the minute that figure is closer to 45,000 – still a very significant number. To Alan R Jones however, this ‘news’ is nothing new and we’ve been working to mitigate the risk to our business and our customers for some time, with our six-month staged driver development plan.

 

How did we get here?

A major consideration in the expected shortfall is an aging population within the pool of existing drivers. With the average age of a UK trucker at 57, a good many are expected to retire in the coming months and years; it’s evident that the industry isn’t doing enough to recruit new blood to replace them.

In part, this could be down to a traditionalist view that lorry driving is somehow an undesirable profession, perceived as a closed-ranks community employing only middle-aged white men with unhealthy lifestyles and not much income.

Garbage, the lot of it.

A qualified, reasonably experienced long distance driver can earn over £30,000 a year. Sticking to local or UK-wide routes means the job is still suitable for those with families and the employee benefit packages are strong. Plus the obvious advantages of a travel-heavy lifestyle: seeing new places and meeting lots of interesting people!

 

So what are we doing about it?

We’re not just going to sit here and cry about it. Sure, the situation is troubling but we’re an entrepreneurial business and we always look for the opportunity in a crisis – a chance to get our foot in the door and ensure a solid future for our business, our staff and our customers.

We believe in starting early. Instead of just dipping into the existing talent pool and scrabbling to steal drivers from our competitors, we recruit and train new drivers on a six-month development plan. We coach them to our exacting standards in readiness for our business’ requirements in six months’ time and beyond.

The benefits to our new drivers are obvious – they get a fantastic career virtually from a standing start, training with some of the best in the industry at a firm with a proud tradition of doing things the right way and ensuring customers are taken care of.

And the benefits to our industry are obvious too: new, young qualified drivers with a passion for the industry and a loyalty to the trade that gave them a great career.

We all know that the haulage industry is what keeps our economy running. As well as being directly responsible for employing around 600,000 people, we transport the vast majority of consumer and trade goods from their place of manufacture or import to places where people and businesses can access them. Without enough lorry drivers, the whole UK economy takes a devastating hit.

That’s why we’re investing in not only the future of ARJ, but of our industry as a whole.