The UK’s shortage of HGV drivers isn't ground breaking news, but the problem is now a critical nationwide issue that is causing delays and impacting project programmes.
We wanted to take this opportunity to state that whilst many businesses are struggling as a result of the driver shortages impacting on their daily operations, here at Merritts, this is not a problem, and we are continuing to provide a reliable heavy machinery moving service to our clients.
The lorry driver shortage is a widespread problem affecting countries across Europe and also the United States, caused by a range of factors:
Retirement has certainly played its part in the shortage of drivers. The haulage industry is an ageing workforce, evidenced by an average age of HGV drivers of 55 years old. Less than 1% are under 25, according to a recent survey conducted by the Road Haulage Association.
European drivers have become a vital part of the industry, topping up numbers and providing elasticity at times of increased demand. This reliance on overseas labour has long been a source of concern and has been exacerbated by Brexit immigration changes which removed the rights of many EU drivers to live and work in the UK.
To put in numbers the UK has lost 15,000 European drivers this year due to Brexit, causing immense pressure on the supply chain.
The situation came to a head in the pandemic following a mass exodus of drivers from the UK workforce, which led some drivers to return to their home countries from where many have opted not to return.
There is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000, a Road Haulage Association survey of its members estimates.
The pandemic has also created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, with over 30,000 UK driver tests lost due to Covid. This has led to an impossible situation where there isn’t enough new drivers to replace those leaving the industry.
Whilst many have struggled due to a lack of drivers, Merritts has been fortunate that this has not impacted on our ability to carry our heavy machinery moving projects. Merritts have always understood that to attract and retain the best drivers, you have to provide the right working conditions and provide a competitive salary. We have done this for nearly 100 years and have no plans to change this way of thinking.
The stringent safety measures put in place during the pandemic has also ensured that our workforce has been able to remain at full strength, which has meant we have been able to continue to respond to enquiries in a quick and efficient manner.
Our site teams consist of SSSTS trained foremen, riggers, HGV Class 1 & 2 drivers, crane operators and electrical & mechanical engineering specialists. Merritts also employ fully certified slinger signallers, banksmen and appointed persons to provide competent supervision when carrying out the moving and lifting of heavy machinery and equipment.
The Merritts fleet incorporates an extensive range of modern vehicles; most of which have been custom built to our own specification to fulfil the requirements of the machine transport & installation industry. This ensures we are able to provide customers with lifting solutions for any machinery moving project.
If you are considering a heavy machinery removal, relocation, or installation project, need to temporarily store new or redundant heavy machinery, or simply need space to carry out servicing and maintenance, please get in touch.