Two major players in the transport sector have chosen the penultimate round of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Silverstone to launch a joint campaign aimed at securing the future of UK industry.
Premium tyre manufacturer Dunlop and key trade body, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), have joined forces to raise awareness of a transport crisis, which threatens to bring industries such as manufacturing, retail and logistics to a grinding halt in the UK. The HGV Heroes campaign highlights the impact that the impending HGV driver shortage is going to have across the country.
Although there are 600,000 HGV-licensed drivers in the UK with an average age of 57, around a quarter of them are set to retire in the coming decade and there is already an estimated 45,000-60,000 extra drivers required to meet current demand. There are only 17,000 new HGV drivers qualifying each year, so over time, the shortage is set to increase.
With 85% of all goods consumed in the UK being moved by road, its easy to see that unless urgent action is taken, the risks to the continued recovery of the national economy will become much more serious. So the industry, led by Dunlop and the RHA, is looking to solve the issue through:
- Redefining the truck driver profession, its image and perceived earning potential
- Developing channels of funding for driver training
- Reducing insurance premiums for young truck drivers
- Improving roadside facilities for truck drivers
- Simplifying the qualification process
The campaign is being launched at Silverstone as it is supported by BTCC driver Tom Ingram, who has recently taken on the challenge to qualify for an HGV licence. Tom, who is sponsored by the RHA, found that truck driving requires similar levels of skill and concentration as racecar driving but is actually harder to grasp.
To launch the campaign, Tom showcased a 44-ton Dunlop Motorsport truck around the Silverstone track. Joining Tom at the launch event, RHA CEO Richard Burnett commented: We have been putting Tom through formal training to become a fully qualified HGV driver. By highlighting driving as a career in this way, we aim to raise awareness among younger people to the fantastic career possibilities available within the freight logistics industry. An industry that remains totally reliant upon its professional driver workforce.
Marc Preedy, commercial director Goodyear Dunlop said: The road transport sector is dynamic, efficient, IT-led and a great industry in which to work. Despite this, there are not enough drivers and the long-term picture indicates that we have an enormous skills gap that the industry urgently needs to fill. This has become a top priority for both the RHA and Dunlop.
Fast facts about the haulage and logistics industry:
- Currently employs 2.2 million people
- The UKs fifth largest employer
- Industry worth ?74Bn to UK economy
- 496,800 commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are registered in the UK