Driver Consultation paper in response to the “Skills Crisis” in the Haulage and Logistics sector.
The UK Haulage and Logistics Industry is facing an inevitable crisis in the near future rather than the distant future owing to the lack of new recruits, coupled with the loss of time served experienced drivers due to retirement or change of career.
Recruitment of professional drivers has been on the decline for a number of years and has gone unrecognised as a problem. With new legislation in 2014 coming into force, extra cost to drivers and a career with no long term prospects or benefits, the industry needs to recognise the issues and work jointly to resolve these and attract new blood into the profession.
The present experienced professionals on our roads are now averaging well above 50 years of age and outnumber the younger generation approximately 10 to1. As 5 or more experienced drivers leave there is only one untrained inexperienced new recruit to replace the position, Without 2 years experience the trainee will not get a job because of insurance restrictions, as this continues a shortage of skilled drivers is inevitable. (Figures estimated)
Recruitment and retention of experienced drivers must now be considered as the number one priority for haulage firms. To this end the Truckersworld Committee have set up a task force comprising of long term experienced drivers along with help from other interested parties in the profession. We have consulted and debated the problems on our forums in an effort to find solutions for the lack of recruitment, retention, and loss of many experienced drivers in our Industry. We present our consultation findings along with possible solutions for your consideration.
Identified Problems and solutions
Truckersworld UK Ltd
Recruitment of drivers is a challenge in the UK, even in this period of tough economic conditions road haulage is failing to recruit. In July 2012, data indicated that for every driver seeking a LGV role, there were six positions being advertised.
Evidence suggests that even though employers are receiving applications, applicants do not have the required skills or work experience or do not have the necessary attitude motivation or personality. The reasons may be due to lack of investment in training.
Wages or Salary in the haulage industry do not compare favourably with equivalent skilled trades. Many companies pay as little as the minimum wage and many do not recognize a drivers experience and skills. Drivers feel used and abused by the attitudes and expectations of many employers.
There are not many jobs where you are at risk of financial penalty or worse should something go wrong.
Many supermarkets pay a higher hourly rate in for shelf stacking than many companies pay for driving a 44 tonne truck.
Lack of secure parking is a serious problem, how many other mobile workers are expected to sleep in their vehicles in lay byes? The dangers are obvious but many employers will not pay parking fees.
It speaks volumes about the industry that has six vacancies for every driver available and can not recruit. Why would any young person wish to enter an industry like this?
As for not having the required skills or experience, amongst all the other requirements why would anyone want to waste money investing in training to join an industry with so little to offer?
The industry has only it's self to blame. It has consistently kept wages down and offered little or no other benefits unless a driver works for a blue chip company.
It seems that accountants are given too much free rein to run companies.
Managers are not allowed to manage.
In 2011, “average” individual earnings in Britain were £26,000
We would suggest an industry wide pay scale which would reflect the different levels of skill and experience.
There are many advantages to such a system; it would reduce movement and poaching of skilled drivers for the sake of a small increase in hourly rate.
One such system being suggested is the Gold standard, this system in its simplest form would recognize a drivers skills and experience as a driver progresses through the ranks. Bronze, Silver, Gold. Without getting bogged down in the detail at this moment, there could be variable payment for multi skills,
It would then show a drivers status while setting a target for drivers to aspire to, knowing the pay that goes with that level of achievement across the industry.
Other benefits like career progression, a decent pension, sickness accident pay are all considerations made by applicants.
This Gold standard type of system could also be applied to employers.
The haulage industry has become the poor relation of the working world, together we can put the industry back on the road with proper respect it used to have but this can only be achieved by a root and branch overhaul of the industry. The time for sound bite cliché’s is over; if you want your driver to be your companies’ ambassador then they must feel valued for their contribution to the company’s goals. Driving a large goods vehicle in today's environment is a stressful and demanding job.
HOURS OF WORK
Despite the introduction of the W.T.D (working time directive) it is not uncommon for many drivers to work in excess of 60 hours per week. The W.T.D has not been enforced as well as it could have been. Many drivers feel they have to work the hours to make a living wage. Many companies expected a driver to work the maximum hours that were available with scant regard to the driver’s home and social life. I am sure the general public would be very alarmed to realise a driver of a 44 tonne truck could start work at 06.00 hrs and park up at 21.00 hrs some15 or even 16 hours later perfectly legally.
The question has to be asked should anybody be expected to work such long hours? Particularly in this age of H&S and drivers at risk of falling asleep at the wheel with the horrendous consequences.
Many drivers pointed to undue hold ups at customer premises. Despite reporting the hold ups there was a strong feeling of isolation as the company were not prepared to risk upsetting a customer, This problem usually happened at large supermarket R.D.C.s which leaves the driver in limbo having to wait, the knock on effect left the driver short of time and then having the stress of trying to find somewhere to park up instead of getting home. This is a cause of resentment.
Due to the diversity of the Driving Profession, many drivers have a need or a wish to continue doing long hours to increase their wage or to be able to return home more frequently if on European work. Therefore there is a underlying need for “Driver Choice” in any consultation and changes. The working role of a driver needs to become a normal 48 hour week but with provision for choice to do more but not as an expectation from the employer. Drivers are then able to select more suitable employment and earn a higher than average wage if doing those extra hours. Principily a choice of overtime and not an expectation.
The WTD was originally designed to make it appear
that the UK drivers were not exceeding 48 hours of work per week but we
know most are working well in excess of this due to the implementation
of POA which was solely added as a route for employers to exploit the 48
hour week. This needs to be repealed so that the 48 hour maximum working
week means exactly that.
Another complaint of many drivers is the pressure to make extremely tight delivery slots, the planning of loads seems to be a poor second to a drivers work schedule as many of the people were poorly trained in this important part of the operation. Drivers felt that they were very much the least appreciated in their company. This attitude needs to change.
If new people are to be attracted into the industry companies have to show more consideration for a work life balance. While people realise that haulage is not a 9 to 5 industry they want a life as well.
We will cover these issues with possible solutions for consideration later in this document.
The main recognition from both the drivers and employers view is the minimal margins in haulage rates. Too many people want transport on the cheap and it seems the big companies are as guilty as each other in cutting rates.
The rate cutting has a knock on effect on a company’s ability to pay decent wages and other benefits. The industry needs to curtail undercutting as a means of survival. Customers know the cost of transport and understand how vital it is to have a healthy viable transport network for the sake of the economy. Some of their customers insist the driver unloads the vehicle into their warehouse and even scan the load. These customers should do well with all the free labour they get. If this is accounted for in the rate it does not seem to make its way to a driver’s pay packet.
The industry as a whole need to recognize that long hours, poor pay, and lack of investment in good quality training is killing the industry. The industry must come to terms with the implementation of the WTD and help force the issue in the form of driver and customer education particularly in the general haulage sector.
By reducing a drivers working hours in line with legislation you create a safer industry for people to work in.
A more supporting stance behind drivers who are experiencing difficulties with customers would be welcomed.
As some of the issues identified are interlinked there will be a summary at the end of the report.
Poor load planning was a big issue, Too often drivers suffered as a result. In many cases poor communication and poorly trained planners were the problem.
In essence the long hour culture has to be changed and be seen as a positive step. The harsh realities for many companies are simple, change or go out of business. This is just one part of curing a culture problem inherent in the haulage industry. This will require some education all round and it should be fully supported by the professional associations.
The age profile of drivers is an ageing one, with 12% of LGV drivers 60 years or over and only 2% under 25. Worryingly, the number of individuals gaining an LGV licence has been falling and data indicates that only a third of these are undertaking the additional Driver CPC tests that are now required which enable them to drive professionally.
Long hours, little benefits, Expensive licensing costs, poor image, no guarantee of a job at the end of the training, If the driver is under 25 or has less than two years experience the driver has very little chance of employment. Would you risk investing several thousand pounds to join an industry that is less than stable?
The issue of long hours needs to be addressed and an industry wide solution agreed.
Many Drivers in the UK have commented on the lack of facilities offered to us compared to others in the Euro zone.
Overnight Secure Lorry parking is one of the most required and yet the availability is less than adequate to ensure drivers are rested and safe for the next days work. Motorway Services are pricing themselves out in offering it as a viable option with charges in the region of £25.00 per night. It is legislation that forces us to park up safely at night and so facilities should be made available in all Counties in the UK at a price that is acceptable. This is a long talked about issue of which no action is seen to be moving forward.
Drivers visiting many RDCs or points of delivery are often met with horrendous conditions from poor waiting rooms to a hut or shed with no toilets. A large number of these premises have elaborate reception areas for visiting business personnel and yet visiting drivers often struggle to even have basic means like a toilet.
Roadside facilities, drivers are by legislation forced to take breaks within their permitted driving time and are often forced to park in roadside lay byes. No toilets, no bins, no washing facilities. If we must take a rest period we should be provided with facilities to ensure we have amenities to our requirements. Roadside lay-bys cut back specifically for freight with toilets and washrooms.
There has been widespread attempts to attract more Females into the Industry and although some have taken up the challenge and do a good job it is still seen as a man's world. Unfortunately the lack of facilities for Ladies have not helped encourage them into our profession and if more is to be done to present the profession to the Females then more needs to be done to offer the facilities they require.
1. It should be Legislation that all Councils provide an amenity for overnight Lorry parking with facilities, they all want the goods from their businesses moved and shops stocked so should all provide facilities required by those carrying out this service. Councils have a responsibility but needs intervention from Government Ministers. Proper overnight parking facilities will help reduce crime, make roads safer as drivers are properly rested and keep residential areas free from trucks finding somewhere to park. It benefits all in the community.
2. All Companies that require visiting drivers to their premises should be enforced to offer a specific minimum standard of rest area, toilets, washrooms and refreshment, a hotline should be made available for intervention from health and safety and made available at all visiting sites to ensure they offer basic standards.
3. With the possible introduction of a tax on foreign freight vehicles entering the UK in the near future adding extra revenue to Ministers budgets, this should be ear marked into providing better facilities for the UK freight movement. Take it with one hand and give it with another to improve the facilities that this tax could in fact pay for.
4. Drivers are human beings and yet on occasions are treated with contempt, some of the driving profession get very dirty or greasy, but this does not resemble a lack of pride but a job well done. We deserve far better than what is offered in this year of 2012.
The lack of investment in training is coming home to roost with a vengeance, ever since the demise of the transport levy and the reduction of the R.T.I.T.B and M.O.T.E.C
(Road transport institute training board) (Ministry of Transport Education Centre)
The quality of training on offer in the transport industry is hit and miss.
The table below shows some of the problems faced by the haulage sector. The slight increase coincides with the release of military personnel.
The overall pass rate is around 50%, this is not good enough. There must be something sadly wrong with the training for such a poor pass rate.
Table Number of LGV tests conducted and passed (Category C)
The introduction of the Drivers certificate of professional competence (DCPC) has done nothing to alleviate the situation. The interpretation of this European directive is undermining the belief in quality training.
The Dcpc has been met with justifiable derision and is one of the main causes of experienced drivers preparing to leave the industry.
Tragically a golden opportunity has been squandered, if ever there was a time to overhaul the industry this was it.
This qualification could have been made to mean something. But as usual the industry took a short term view and allowed it to become a joke. Everybody tried to jump on the bandwagon of being a trainer in the DCPC. Trying to charge silly money for at best rudimentary training. After all the instructor did not have to be qualified, you could not make it up.
Training in the haulage industry is still a hand on business; the best trainers were the drivers doing the job day in and day out. When a driver started work at a new haulage company, he or she spent a week or two with the regular driver getting to know the job. An employer benefited from having another driver they could call on for cover or go straight on to a job knowing that the new driver was well trained and capable.
This is an extreme rarity in this age of J.I.T deliveries and the cost of training.
However the experienced drivers are disappearing and their skills are going with them. How many new drivers can rope and sheet, or secure a load of finished steel, or a high load of timber. How often do you see a driver being trained in company time?
Too many companies expect drivers to pay for their own training and then wonder why they vote with their feet.
With all this in mind Truckersworld has come up with some suggestions which could be used as solutions.
1. Reintroduce the transport levy
2. Re establish the R.T.I.T.B and M.O.T.E.C
3. Training should be carried out by people who have had at least 5 years hands on experience on the module they are training, It has been suggested that proper training schools should be set up to train new drivers in all aspects of the job. This could be driving different types of vehicles, load security. Defensive driving. A.D.R, Hiab, etc after completing a course in transport practical training, a course on the rules and regulations and new technology. All this training is aimed at alleviating the catch 22 of insufficient experience or too young for insurance purposes.
4. The DCPC in its current format needs full review to make it acceptable by drivers. It is an opportunity lost in that it offers no benefit or worthiness to the Industry or Drivers. The present take up of training and comments represent just how badly it has been implemented. With a full review and consultation, followed by changes the DCPC could offer an opportunity to bring good training into the profession.
There is an e-petition ongoing to bring about this much needed review:- http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34438
5. We should start dialogue with the insurance companies and get them on board. If a person completes the course they get a certificate which counts as his DCPC, which could help insurers realise this driver has been trained up to a high standard by actual experts and is safe to be on the road with a large vehicle. This hopefully would release the age restriction clause. There are many aspects of training to consider such as refresher courses. Companies could help by allowing trainers to use their premises vehicles or trailers for training particularly at weekends.
6. Partnership approach to training can reduce costs considerably by sharing resources. If a company needs a particular type of training they could liaise with a trainer who could arrange to undertake the training at the convenience of all concerned. At the moment drivers feel like paying for their own training is no more than a tax on their jobs.
7. Good quality training is priceless and stays with drivers for life. Bad training causes resentment and a feeling of being patronised and ripped off. Investment in good training pays back ten fold.
Drivers made several observations on the issue of legislation bearing in mind they want to see the cowboys removed from the road.
Many drivers felt the industry was seriously over regulated and weighted in favour of the enforcing authorities. It was a thread that came through the survey and in their comments, many felt with much justification that they were no more than mobile cash machines. There are so many little rules and regulations to trap a generally law abiding driver it has become a financial burden many can ill afford. When you consider a bulb could go out at any time without the knowledge of the driver a £30.00 fine was punitive to say the least.
Many drivers now believe this revenue raising effort rather than a road safety issue. There are countless stories off unfair and unjust penalties being given to drivers, although technically a driver could appeal there is the little matter of the fine being dramatically increased which makes it futile to exercise that right.
A large amount of drivers commented under the heading of legislation regarding their Health & Safety when they have to try and find somewhere to park. Many end up in lay byes with no facilities or safety. Many companies refuse to pay parking for their vehicles unless carrying a high value load. Drivers are at constant risk of attack in their cab, or having their fuel stolen or goods from their vehicle. Why is there no legislation to force local authorities to supply lorry parks like they used to? We all know a driver can be heavily fined for going over his/her hours even if it was beyond their control. The worst culprits of this are the RDC's who can take several hours to unload a vehicle which leaves a driver in a perilous position. Drivers rightly feel they are one of the only two professions who can be prosecuted for doing their job.
Many Drivers consider that the “agencies” within our Industry need to improve their working ethics and standards on the employment basis of drivers and also to stop their mis-leading (sometimes dishonest) advertising of jobs and work roles. Either legislation or a standard imposed by the RHA/FTA is required. They provide a vital role in the Industry, but unfortunately many are also seen to operate unscrupulously damaging the good name and image. Many new drivers (the new blood) are forced to use agencies to gain experience and first impressions of the Industry are paramount if a career is to be maintained. A bad agency will have a detrimental effect on our purpose and so we must ensure they all operate to high standards.
Another big problem was doing city deliveries and collections, authorities should exempt commercial vehicles from parking tickets whilst making deliveries or collections.
Over regulation is making road haulage almost impossible at times, how long will it be before we are legislated out of work?
1. Introduce legislation to force local authorities to set aside space for a lorry park with some facilities for overnight parking. Encourage developers to include overnight parking space in new industrial estates.
2. Remove the constant threat of financial penalties for minor faults. Encourage a different attitude from both sides. We are all aiming for the same target.
3. The RHA/FTA introduce a "code of conduct" that all agency operators must sign up to and a list provided for drivers.
4. Educate customers as to the strict rules surrounding a drivers time.
This issue has caused much resentment amongst drivers who believed immigrants usually East European have been deliberately imported to help head off a driver shortage.
It is with justification drivers feel their wages are being forced down due to cheap labour.
Many drivers have questioned the qualifications of many of these drivers. It seemed the answer to the potential driver shortage but it has proved not to be the case.
Unscrupulous companies have laid off British drivers and replaced them with immigrant drivers at much lower wages; this has caused a tremendous amount of resentment. These companies then tender at cut throat rates to get contracts and continue to exploit their drivers.
While drivers understand and have no problem with people coming to the country to better themselves and their family, what drivers have a problem with is the companies who are getting away with this type of exploitation. Why are the authorities not investigating these companies? Insurance companies are clamping down on the damage claims involving these drivers, it is rumoured that many have had no formal training and obtained their licence on the black market.
Until the authorities are seen to be clamping down on these companies this situation will not improve. This is where something like the Gold standard system would come into its own. This would help level the playing field.
1. Education is the best weapon to dispel this sort of prejudice. Much stricter enforcement by the authorities, more checks on drivers to establish their competence. This would save a lot of accidents, there seems to be a higher proportion of accidents involving East European drivers.
2. All European Drivers being employed by UK Companies must first pass an assessment by qualified personnel to ensure he is capable and competent.
3. Investigate the financial standing of companies that suddenly lay of British drivers and employ foreign drivers at a lower rate.
This consultation report has been written by the full Truckersworld Committee (8 long term highly professional Drivers) with the addition of information received by use of the forum from many drivers as to their views and opinions.
The information contained is issued as a guide only for debate and discussion and an outline of issues and problems drivers have in our profession. Our profession is very diverse and it is impossible to ascertain a definitive solution to all the issues as differing drivers have varying priorities within their employment or as owner drivers.
The information contained within is based on information we have received, but is not a statement of fact but as a guide only.
The issue of wages and hours being the priority to most drivers and both must be debated with the other in mind as those wanting less hours of work require an acceptable hourly rate to make it possible.
From the consultations we have had over many years with the many professional drivers is that many still have a pride in the job they aspire to do and promote a good image, but with low wages, long hours and a lack of respect the number of these proud drivers is diminishing with a state of low moral.
Professional Drivers are the key resource in recruitment of new blood into our sector by recommendation, as has always been over many years. Low recruitment figures are justified as less are able to recommend this as a creditable career.
If the Haulage and Logistics Industry want to increase recruitment and retain the highly skilled professionals then they must start to listen and take on board our issues and offer the respect we once had as the knights of the road.
We must now invite the Industry to consider the future, do they want highly professional, skilled drivers within their employment or personnel that will steer the vehicle but do little else. Haulage rates need to be increased to a minimum standard of respectable profit and make possible employing and keeping “Good Drivers” in the long term.
The continuation of not taking on board these issues will see a decline of professionals on our roads, more damage and accidents to vehicles, less fuel economy, less pride and promotion of the Industry, a bad image portrayed and a UK haulage sector in crisis due to the lack of “Good Professional Drivers”.
Thank you for reading this consultation and my thanks to Chris Reid, the TW Committee and the many drivers that have contributed to its content.
Skills Crisis Forum:-
Some comments received from Professional Drivers in relation to the Skills Crisis
Truckersworld UK Ltd