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If you follow our news, you’ll know that there’s a worrying HGV driver shortage at the moment, and that it could cause the UK many logistical problems in the near future. With the majority of current drivers nearing retirement age, and not enough younger drivers in training to replace them, questions are being asked about how the haulage industry will cope in the next few years.

 

Whatever affects the haulage industry affects both businesses and consumers, because the industry is the lifeblood that carries goods around the world. Without enough drivers to sustain the British producers who need them, British businesses on the whole could suffer greatly. Foreign drivers aren’t the answer, either, as we’ve reported in the past. Brexit and the fluctuating value of the pound means drivers from overseas aren’t seeing the level and stability of wages they would like to be able to send home, and foreign drivers are leaving the HGV industry in large numbers.

 

Now a new problem has emerged – the threat specifically to Scotland if the HGV driver shortage isn’t reversed.  Scottish haulage professional Geoff Campbell recently held a discussion with Scottish Secretary and MP David Mundell, and MSP Oliver Mundell, to discuss the future of Scotland’s HGV industry. And the news was not good. Mr Campbell highlighted an 11,000-strong HGV crisis in Scotland alone. Among the HGV drivers working today, just two per cent are under the age of 25, and one per cent are women, with three per cent BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).

 

MSP Oliver Mundell acknowledged the scale of the problem, saying he would like to see the driver shortage raised as a priority for the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency – the new dedicated skills and enterprise agency for southern Scotland. The worry, said Mr Mundell, was that this kind of shortage could eventually mean that “we will see a shortage of deliveries for customers and empty supermarket shelves”, unless something is done to recruit more HGV drivers in the immediate short term.

 

The South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will work in a similar way to the preexisting Highlands and Islands Agency which operates in other areas of Scotland. Both agencies exist to look at skills gaps and industry needs in Scotland that not only serve the businesses that are based there, but also help Scotland as a whole to prosper and gain fuller employment. Producers in Scotland could be at risk if the driver shortage continues, and this could affect not only Scotland’s economy but also the supply of popular products made in Scotland to the rest of the UK and the world.

 

Among the most famous products made in Scotland and exported are Highland Spring water, Tunnock’s Teacakes, many popular brands of whisky. Equally vital Scottish-produced products that are exported all over the world include car components, power generating equipment, aircraft parts and microchips for consumer devices. While there’s no indication that any of these individual companies are suffering from the driver shortage at the moment, no industry would be safe from HGV crisis to transport their goods.

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