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Shocking shortage must galvanise driver recruitment

A recent report from the transport committee shed light on the startling shortfall of skilled drivers in the road haulage sector, with estimates ranging between 45,000 and 60,000.

I hope this announcement will act as an incentive to the government to help channel new recruits to the sector.

Under the current arrangements for apprenticeships, there is no support from the government, which believes that people should pay to get their own licences, even though courses cost £3,000 plus a £230 fee for the test.

This lack of support needs to be addressed, as there is only so much the industry can do by itself. Yet not all the pressure should fall onto the government.

Careers for all

An important area the report highlighted was the current gender imbalance in the logistics sector. With only 8 per cent of the 400,000 people holding both an LGV licence and a driver CPC being female, the responsibility falls to the industry to make a conscious effect to attract more women.

Although government funding will be a small incentive to women, companies should actively encourage the search for women drivers and managers.

“We need to educate children from school age that there are more options available to them than they might have initially realised”

The starting point for this? Education. From a young age, children are given certain expectations as to what is classified as a male job and what is female. We need to educate children from school age that there are more options available to them than they might have initially realised.

I’ve worked with incredibly talented women who were unaware of the career prospects in the sector before they started. By taking on mentoring roles and holding talks, we can address this issue and hopefully raise the profile of the hardworking women in the industry.

Training needed

Although I have emphasised the need to encourage more drivers, it is important we continue to maintain high levels of training. Safety training is the most important aspect of the job, as we are responsible for our drivers’ safety alongside those of vulnerable road users.

In London, we live in an ever-changing city and as an industry we need to keep up with this growing metropolis. There has been a lot of scrutiny on London drivers recently, and although cyclist deaths were down by 12 per cent in 2015 from 2014 – reaching the lowest figure on record – there is still so much more we can do together to get this figure to zero.

I personally deliver the training at my company, as we designed our own in-house Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC), which we offer out to other companies.

These changes aren’t going to happen overnight and we will need to work together to attract new talent and ensure the sector boasts well-trained drivers.

Jacqueline O’Donovan is managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal

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