While the government’s temporary visas for overseas HGV drivers may loosen the choking impacts of the shortage on UK supply chains, there are few truckers coming in from the EU, according to new research.
The HGV driver shortage, which triggered both a fuel crisis and pushed a third of mid-size firms to shrink their offering, has also sparked a 307 per cent spike in interest in UK-based jobs from foreign drivers, economic analysis from jobs site giant Indeed found.
However, this influx of keen drivers is not coming from the UK’s nearest bloc – but instead, are primarily from India, the UAE, South Africa, Poland and Nigeria.
The government has pledged some 5,000 temporary visas in a bid to ease the impacts of the shortage, though the UK is not the only European country to be suffering from the trickling supply – with Italy, Spain and Germany also experiencing the chronic deficit.
A continental issue
A broader shortage of drivers from across the continent has made put the UK in a sticky position, after Brexit has made it no easier for an EU-based driver to get a UK job than it is for a non-EU candidate.
And with European haulage firms hiking wages to lure in qualified drivers from abroad, EU citizens are more likely to take the opportunity as they are able to work visa-free in other EU countries, Indeed explained.
While non-EU drivers do not have that same right, making the UK’s 5,000 visas all the more appealing.
Indeed UK Economist Jack Kennedy explained: “Petrol shortages and the prospect of empty supermarket shelves have spurred the government into action, and all eyes have turned to our European neighbours to see if the offer of 5,000 temporary visas will tempt EU drivers to return to the UK for work.
“However, we might be looking in the wrong direction, as the fact that so many other European countries are wrestling with their own driver shortages means EU-based drivers may opt to stay close to home rather than move to post-Brexit Britain.”
In a bid to draw in candidates away from the bloc, UK haulage firms have been hiking pay and offering sign-on bonuses, which has pushed the average hourly wage for drivers to swell by 15 per cent, while salaries have increased 19 per cent – in comparison with a wider market increase of 1.3 per cent on average.
“Visas for 5,000 drivers may barely scratch the surface of what is needed, as some estimates put the shortage as high as 100,000,” Kennedy added.
“Meanwhile, non-EU drivers will be less likely to have the Driver CPC qualification that’s required to drive HGVs in the UK and EU. Getting one could eat into the time in which overseas drivers can drive in the UK, and this roadblock could blunt the effectiveness of the visa scheme.”