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How can haulage businesses address the skills shortage?

Research from the Close Brothers Business Barometer in March 2020, a survey of 900 SME decision makers, found that more than half of those in the transport and haulage sector are concerned because they believe there is skills gap. 

At the end of 2019, a Road Haulage Association (“RHA”) survey also found that the skills shortage is a priority concern for their members. They estimate that there is currently a shortfall of around 60,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers, which could have a significant impact on the British economy. 

While industry output and deliveries could slow significantly if the labour gap increases, offering training and education to equip your workforce with the practical knowledge they need can be an effective way to meet labour requirements.  

Depending on the size of your business, the government offers support and funding to train new drivers. Similarly, there are schemes to help existing employees upskill. The Warehouse to Wheels programme provides a framework to train staff so that they can drive large vehicles.  

Close Brothers has also partnered with the RHA to help tackle the driver shortage and train the next generation of Large Goods Vehicle Drivers through its SME Apprentice Programme.  

Under the scheme, Close Brothers paid for 20 apprentices to learn their skills and funded half of the new recruits’ wages during the first six months and a quarter in the second.  

This support helped to alleviate cost concerns as many smaller operators simply cannot afford to take on apprentice drivers, and also gives the 20 companies and the industry they service a real boost.