June 3, 2013
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There has been much discussion in recent months about the impact of the Drivers’ CPC on the availability of drivers from September 2014.
Several observers are of the view that these new training requirements will deter large numbers of drivers – particularly those aged over 60 – and that they will leave the industry rather than go through with the training. Whether that proves to be the case or not, we know that a large proportion of drivers are over 50 and that, as a result we will lose significant numbers of drivers over the next five to ten years, even if they all decide to go through the DCPC training and get the Qualification Card; without one they will not be employable.
I am inclined to think that the Driver CPC, important though it is, is only a part of the problem. Keeping the drivers that we already have, let alone attracting new blood into the industry, is not going to be easy because the job brings quite a few challenges that really need to be tackled. For a start, traffic conditions are frustrating enough for almost all drivers, but our truck drivers have to put up with delays and congestion all day every day. During the day, they have to put up with the difficulties that they face at RDCs and other collection/delivery points, who – far too often – do not treat them with anything remotely like the respect that they deserve, refusing access to toilet facilities, which is illegal, taking their keys and keeping them hanging around for hours on end, even though they arrive within a booked in slot. Then, at the end of the day, they have great difficulty finding somewhere to park that offers decent quality, reasonable value food and facilities. Add to this the fact that the number of people passing the LGV Driving Test and going on to acquire an initial Driver’s Qualification is far short of the likely number that will be going out of the industry, and it quickly becomes clear that any expected driver shortage in a few years’ time will be much more like a driver crisis. Arguably, this could be a good thing, with a real lack of drivers creating a shortage of haulage that can only result in a meaningful rise in haulage rates, although this will be needed to the fund higher wages that will be commanded in a shortage situation.
Inevitably, this will mean that the impact of foreign competition will get worse: remember that limits on cabotage could well disappear during this time period. Having said that, the availability of foreign drivers is nowhere near as significant as it was when the Eastern European States joined the EU some years ago, because their own economies have grown to the extent that the driver’s job is better paid and the attraction to move to “prosperous” UK has greatly declined. The big concern is that the industry will blame any shortage of drivers on the DCPC, when there is a much bigger picture to take into account.