How Will Brexit Impact Driver Shortages?

A year has passed since the UK government served formal notice to terminate EU membership, and with Brexit estimated to take place in Spring 2019, withdrawal negotiations are now at their peak. Speculation surrounding Brexit’s impact on UK trade is rife, with repercussions expected across all areas of the supply chain.

For the road haulage industry there are numerous concerns, including longer delays resulting from post-Brexit border controls, increased operator costs, and – should Britain forge trading relationships with countries less accessible by road – a potential economic downturn for the whole sector.

However, one of the most significant concerns relates to employment, and in particular, the loss of trained, experienced EU nationals who have long been a feature of the UK workforce.  As part of exit negotiations, the UK Government has proposed that those who have lived in the UK continuously for more than five years can apply for ‘settled status’ and remain indefinitely. Those who don’t meet this criteria will be able to request residence until they’re eligible to apply for ‘settled status’.

So what impact could Brexit have on the already significant, industry-wide problem of driver shortages in the UK?

Will Smith, Managing Director of Uxbridge-based Savanna Driver Recruitment believes that the impact could be severe, commenting: “With an ageing workforce that is already short of around 50,000 drivers, many transport companies and fleet operators have come to rely on European workers.  As an industry, UK logistics already employs more than 310,000 workers from the EU, representing 2.3% of the sector’s total workforce”.

Smith continued: “If Brexit results in EU workers having restricted access to employment, the driver shortages that we are already seeing industry-wide are likely to be compounded, with hauliers and fleet operators facing severe recruitment issues, particularly in relation to trained LGV drivers.  This in turn will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on the UK supply chain as a whole.

From an employer’s perspective, we believe it will be ‘business as usual’ until future immigration arrangements have been determined. We’re advising hauliers and fleet operators to keep an eye on negotiations and prepare for changes by ensuring they’re fully compliant with current legislation, as well as communicating regularly with EU workers to put their minds at ease and encourage retention.  While additional options for filling labour shortages such as training and apprenticeship programmes will become increasingly important, retaining the knowledge and experience of EU individuals as part of our workforce is vital.”

Savanna Driver Recruitment is a specialist driver recruitment and training provider, matching experienced temporary and permanent LGV (HGV), HIAB and Moffett drivers to businesses throughout London and the South East.

Savanna’s unique MySavanna Family Programme offers drivers wide-ranging opportunities for training and career progression, helping them to learn new skills, earn more money, and develop their driving career, whilst rewarding them for the contribution they make to Savanna and Savanna’s clients.