Operators and drivers need to work together to tackle road transport's skill crisis
The head of a new working group formed to tackle the looming threat of a driver shortage has said he will now consider including drivers, not just operators and industry representatives, in the process.
Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Geoff Dunning has been tasked with chairing the Drivers’ Occupational Craft Skills Group, which intends to hold its first meeting next month.
He called for operators to get involved to tackle the "critical" issue earlier this month in CM (14 June). However, after a suggestion from CM's sister title Truck & Driver, Dunning says he will now suggest broadening the working group out to include actual drivers, not just those that manage them.
"There are real concerns around driver availability in the next few years," Dunning tells CM. "The requirement to undertake Driver CPC, the fact that a significant proportion of our driver population are over 55, and the relatively small amount taking LGV tests, means the pool of drivers is shrinking. So this is a big issue if we don’t do anything about it."
Dunning’s call to action comes after a new report from Skills for Logistics highlighted that the UK faces a driver shortage that will hit by 2014 (CM 15 May). The report, A Looming Driving Shortage?, reveals there has been a 31% decline in LGV tests passed (C, C+E, C1, C1+E) during the past four years to 22,700 in 2010/11.
There is also a shortfall in Driver CPC hours ahead of the September 2014 deadline.
The figures chime with CM’s own investigation into the issue (CM 15 March), which found tests taken (C and C+E) have more than halved from 2005-06 to 2009-10 to just 43,094. Those those passed in the same period fell 45% to 21,749.
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Drivers’ Occupational Craft Skills Group
The group will meet twice a year and will include representatives from both the heavy freight and van sectors (3.5 tonne and above). There will be ongoing dialogue around the physical meetings and the programme is funded for two years. It will identify and suggest ways of tackling the existing skills gap, including looking at the suitability of current qualifications. Findings will be feed back to stakeholders, SfL and ultimately government. The group will also establish a "gold standard" in regards key craft and employability competences for drivers.