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38 For more news and analysis go to www.freight-online.co.uk Driver shortage could bring sector to a standstill Jon Milton Business Development Director, Comensura Recruiters are predicting a 10 per cent increase in driving staff demand while the sector continues to suffer a low availability of candidates. Research conducted by Comensura recently revealed that the UK transportation industry could become gridlocked due to a growing driver shortage, largely caused by an ageing workforce and young candidates being dissuaded by the cost of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC). The research we carried out surveyed specialist recruitment agencies, from the largest well-known agencies to local, niche SMEs, contracted to supply temporary drivers of all grades and other transportation staff. Half of specialist driver recruiters cite a low candidate availability, coupled with the rising demand that creates a staffing gap in the sector. Availability is the lowest for Moffett, HIAB and ADR drivers – with up to nine out of ten recruiters saying that there’s a low availability for drivers of these vehicles, while in contrast nearly half claim that there is an excess of standard van driver availability. Around half of recruiters claim that the time it takes to fill a driving role has increased by over a week compared to 12 months ago, suggesting that the increasing lack of candidate availability is consuming more time for the sector and reducing efficiency. Two out of five recruiters also say that the time that it takes for a candidate to register with an agency and to be ‘cleared to work’ has increased by a week too, showing that added bureaucracy can lengthen the process of allocating candidates to jobs. The escalation of pay rates can complicate the process too, with four out of five recruiters claiming that candidates demanding higher pay adds to the challenge. Around three quarters of respondents claim that the introduction of the Driver CPC is another challenge in recruitment; this is the £2,000 qualification that all bus, coach and lorry drivers must pass before working. The demand for higher pay could be due to the considerable cost of the course that drivers must pay for and then go through regular renewals to remain qualified. Over 60 per cent of LGV drivers are 45 years old or above, and the average age of an LGV driver is 53, meaning that workers in this sector represent an ageing workforce and many are nearing retirement. Four out of five recruiters cite newly qualified candidates getting work experience as a challenge when recruiting drivers, showing that experienced candidates are valued much more highly than those at entry level, a factor that could be hindering younger generations from advancing their skills. Over half of recruiters also say that it is a challenge finding drivers able to do manual work: another factor that dissuades young people to enter the profession, in addition to uncomfortable working conditions, such as lack of lavatory facilities, and the lifestyle impacts of long and difficult shifts. Comensura recommends the following five points to help businesses with driving requirements narrow the gap between the supply of drivers and demand: 1. Find a balanced pay rate: establish what the average pay rate is for drivers and try to match it for your staff. But equally, determine how much you can afford to pay them. By finding a balance between the two, you can attract candidates while not paying them over the odds 2. Look at the long-term: forecast your needs over the next 12 months, taking into account workers’ holidays and times when demand is high 3. Consider the company’s wider picture: ensure that you have realistic expectations of your drivers and don’t promise your clients anything that the driving staff can’t deliver 4. Contact recruitment agencies promptly: procure the candidates you need as early as possible to maintain a constant flow of staff 5. Look within the organisation: instead of looking externally for candidates, see if there is anyone internal to fill the vacant roles. Carry out in-house training to make individuals who already work for you suitable, which you may be able to do by gaining support funding The entire logistics industry is worth more than £74 billion to the UK economy and employs around 2.2 million people in over 196,000 companies, so it’s playing a big part in helping our economy recover. It seems vital that the sector attracts more young people and equips them with the skills to become competent professional drivers so that it isn’t held back in the future by a lack of skilled workers. It’s worrying that the driving sector is suffering from staff shortages and that the majority of recruiters believe it will increase. But provided that organisations carry out our recommended guidance, they can effectively manage their demand to ensure that they recruit the right number of candidates when they need them, which will help to minimise driver shortages. A review of the industry as a whole is in order to consider whether it’s qualifying drivers in the right way and how well it’s attracting people to enter the profession. For further information visit: www.comensura.com Tachograph technology: Why operators should adopt a ‘compliance-first’ approach Andrew Tavener Head of Marketing, Descartes Systems UK With the DVSA having announced its intent to focus on the worst offending transport operators, there is a growing recognition that technology can help organisations demonstrate to the authorities that they are actively managing their compliance. Caroline Hicks, DVSA Head of Enforcement has commented: “We want the cost of compliance to be relatively low, relatively steady and relatively known. As soon as you choose to be non-compliant the costs will increase and they will keep increasing so that no business can afford to sit in that non-compliant area.” DVSA commissioned research has identified six types of operator: 1. Exemplar 2. Compliant 3. Compliant with support 4. Potential rule breakers 5. Non-compliant 6. Seriously/serially non-compliant Those operators categorised as Potential rule breakers downward are the ones that are much more likely to be targeted on the road. The DVSA has announced an initial step towards this with the trial of ‘earned recognition’ for HGV fleet operators. Under the trial, transport operators making their records available to DVSA to view online could gain recognition as a compliant operator so, removing the need for the DVSA to perform roadside checks on them. The earned recognition system could reduce the burden on fleets freeing up the Agency’s time to tackle serious and serially non-compliant operators. Tachograph analysis and compliance management technology can help operators demonstrate to the DVSA that they are proactively managing their drivers and transport operation and taking all reasonable steps to prevent infringements and breaches of complicated tachograph and drivers’ hours regulations. Technology can also help reduce the cost for fleets and the impact of their business. A national supermarket chain claimed that each roadside check cost its business more than £4,000 due to the just-in-time nature of their deliveries. The key is to take a holistic, ‘compliance first’ approach. From tracking driver hours to checking licences and ensuring pre-journey vehicle inspections are undertaken, embedding these processes within day-to-day operations makes these essential aspects of compliance business as usual. For example, automatically and routinely checking a driver’s licence – including points – against DVLA records, not only saves time but avoids the risk of out of date information from the now discarded paper licence counterpart. With up to date, accurate information, a company can rapidly assess the level of risk it is carrying based on overall driver endorsements and the potential impact on insurance. Moreover, for those drivers with more points and therefore a greater risk profile, the company can instigate more frequent checks, ensuring compliance is maintained at all times. In addition, DVSA estimates that 85 per cent of roadworthiness infringements could have been avoided if the driver undertook an effective walk-around vehicle check before starting the journey*. And while it can be hard to ensure these checks are undertaken, companies can remove the risk associated with management by trust by using an App to record a driver’s pre-journey inspection of tyres, windscreen wipers, lights and so on. Of course the biggest issue is tracking and managing driver hours. And with the shortage of HGV drivers, the opportunities for individuals to work longer continue to grow. Drivers may face pressure from some firms to work extra hours; while some drivers may decide to take that risk themselves. Either way, the potential business impact is huge. Companies need to not only enforce the limit but also ensure that measurement is done accurately and effectively, creating an audit proof record for the DVSA and gaining that ‘earned recognition’. Finally, by ensuring that compliance is ‘baked in’, it is far easier for organisations to optimise journeys and meet customer demands. Dynamic appointments can be offered, reservations met and the entire customer experience enhanced with no fear of accidentally pushing the limits - and paying the price. Reference *DVSA Effectiveness report, 2012 – 2013: http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/ news/2014/7/18/dvsa-no-government-licensing-regime-for-vans/53032/ For further information visit: smartcompliance.descartes.com