Trucker Testing Rules to Be Eased as U.K. Fights Driver Shortage
The rules for obtaining licences to drive lorries in Britain are to be eased as the U.K. seeks to combat a labor shortage that is roiling supply chains.
The testing system will be simplified to speed up drivers getting their qualifications, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday. Officials have already relaxed a limit on the hours that drivers are allowed to drive and boosted capacity at testing centres.
“We’re going to go further,” Shapps said, describing the shortage issue as a global problem and not related to Britain’s departure from the European Union, which saw many EU drivers return to the continent. “To say that this is just an issue of Brexit, it’s completely untrue.”
Supermarkets and retailers have had to contend with missed deliveries and empty shelves due to the shortfall of lorry drivers, with the haulage industry saying there are 100,000 fewer than needed. Labor shortages have also been reported in sectors such as hospitality, agriculture and food processing.
The British Chambers of Commerce says the tight labour market will hamper growth in the coming months. An employment survey on Thursday showed that the supply of candidates for jobs fell at a record pace in August. Among the skills in short supply were truck drivers, forklift drivers and warehouse workers.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc cited the driver shortage as a challenge when it warned that the U.K. food industry is facing sustained inflation pressure on food prices.
Shapps said drivers will be able to get licences to drive different types of lorry by sitting a single test, and that third-party organizations will be used to assess off-road maneuvering, speeding up the process.
“If that’s the best the government have got, I’m afraid the crisis will not be sorted,” shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said in the House Commons, replying to Shapps. “The long-term problems in the haulage industry won’t be solved by the measures outlined today.”
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