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Vacancies still concern for freight and logistics sector

The freight and logistics sector is still suffering a shortage of skilled drivers

According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA)’s July Quarterly Transport Activity Survey (QTAS), sponsored by Santander Corporate Banking showed that almost a third of respondents were experiencing long delays in recruiting HGV drivers.

The survey, which asked the opinions of 6,000 freight and logistics businesses in the FTA’s membership showed that the sector’s reliance on skilled HGV drivers from abroad and the ongoing uncertainty over workers’ status as the Brexit negotiations unfold had an effect on the industry and members are keen for clarification on what the situation will be once the UK exits the EU.

“At a time when British businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on an efficient supply chain, the lack of qualified drivers available to work could soon become cause for concern,” says Christopher Snelling, Head of National and Regional Policy at FTA. “And with just over 57% of respondents to QTAS also anticipating a shortage of HGV drivers moving into the second half of 2017, it is clear that the industry needs a recruitment boost to overcome the potential issues which this could cause in the long term to Britain’s ongoing profitability.”

International trade through UK-based hauliers also proved less buoyant than anticipated in April, and could reflect the low levels of growth in the overall economy in the second quarter of the year.

Weaker growth in domestic road freight activity levels in Q1 2017 was reported, compared to the previous quarter.  However, the survey did give cause for cautious optimism about domestic logistics operations, with most industrial sectors and most regions indicating reasonable levels of growth in Q2 2017, and the majority reporting they expect strong growth in activity levels in Q3 2017.

In other modes of freight transport, respondents reported that short sea, deep sea and air freight volumes are expected to grow on most trade routes during Q3 2017. The anticipated improvement in export volumes is possibly due to the low level of Sterling against the US Dollar. The anticipated rise in import volumes is probably due to the continued growth in the UK economy. The rail network maintained its reliability advantage over the road network in Q2 2017.

John Simkins, Head of Transport and Logistics, Santander UK, said, “A shortage of skilled drivers has been a persistent challenge in the sector over recent years, and the results of this survey indicate that this is still an ongoing problem. However, it is encouraging to see that businesses from across the country are expecting strong growth in domestic activity in the coming months. Despite some T&L businesses putting their international expansion plans currently on hold, the T&L sector will continue to play a crucial role in the UK economy.”

Copies of the full QTAS report for Q2 2017 are available from www.fta.co.uk

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