CILT focuses on driver shortage in report

A report by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has revealed reasons behind the driver shortage.

The CILT survey finds the reasons behind the driver shortages are: unsociable hours, poor industry image, long hours, sub-standard facilities and poor wages.

The report said: “If these factors, as well as the ‘other’ responses, show the reality of professional driving, does this explain why the shortage may be a generation issue, who require a different work/life balance than in days gone by? If it’s even just their perception of a professional driving career, then many potential recruits are not giving the industry a second thought as it stands.”

The report followed a similar opinion survey in 2015, which found 89% of respondents believed government was not doing enough to help recruit and retain drivers, with this opinion rising to 92% of respondents in the latest version.

The survey found members believe the best way to attract drivers is to improve industry image and improve driver terms and conditions, particularly when compared to entering other occupations, such as retail, where entrants do not undertake medicals and eye-sight tests.

The survey finds 95% of passenger operator respondents have a driver shortage problem (compared to 64% of freight), while The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has reported 7% of bus and coach driver positions were unfilled across Europe in 2021, and likely to reach 8% in 2022. The UK average employee turnover rate is around 15% so the passenger response average of 17% reinforces the problem of retention, with one operator losing nearly half of its drivers in just one year.

Another find is that 96% of passenger responses confirm they have been unable to cover driving work at some point in the reporting period. Economics aside, CILT highlights that passenger operators could be called to account by the Traffic Commissioners if scheduled services fail to operate, and could lose their operator licence.

CILT finds the average passenger driver age is 51.5 years, slightly older than an IRU report showing an average bus and coach driver age, across Europe, of 50, which also showed women PCV drivers representing 12% and young drivers (under 25) accounting for 3%.

Ideas and suggestions

During CILT’s report review meeting, a number of ideas were suggested with many agreeing that the industry image needs to change. The industry needs to look at this internally by working with schools/colleges to promote the sector, according to the organisation. Industry supporters, like CILT (UK), could do more by offering more careers advice within schools and colleges, promoting the benefits of the industry and facilitating working groups with government, academia and industry leaders.

Another option suggested by the CILT is to work closer with MoD and its leavers. The survey results show that only 39% of participants do this and the MoD staff are trained to a high level in many areas.

CILT sees staff engagement, advertising and pay as the most popular methods of seeking and retaining drivers. Appointment of European drivers has reduced greatly since Brexit and presents a compelling case to seek special exemptions across the transport sector, according to the organisation.

Across BusMark, over 60% are not actively seeking to engage MoD service leavers. It also finds that 30.5% of PCV industry respondents are currently recruiting trainee drivers, compared to 46.5% of freight participants.

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