Drivers start government HGV training as survey highlights mental health among logistics workers

Wed 15 Dec 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The government’s new scheme to train 11,000 HGV drivers free of charge to solve the UK shortage has attracted 2,000 applications in the first couple of days of operation, according to the Loadstar.

It is estimated the UK needs another 100,000 lorry drivers, with the driver shortage one element of a global transport problems affecting supply chains.

The training scheme starts as transport secretary Grant Shapps wants £50m to be spent on new lorry parks and facilities for drives, reported the Sunday Times.

Global problem

In September, a coalition of international transport groups warned that global supply chains could collapse unless urgent action was taken to aid the plight of transport workers.

In an open letter to governments at the UN, they said governments had to restore freedom of movement to transport workers and give them priority access to vaccines.

Seafarers, flight crews and truckers had all been hindered doing their jobs, they said.

According to McKinsey, US driver positions remain unfilled despite wages rising at double the pre-Covid rate. Transport and warehousing wage rates are rising at four times the pre-Covid rate.

McKinsey says evolving work preferences and accelerated retirement are playing a role and may continue for some time. These labour problems are having knock on supply chain effects as companies struggle to meet customer demands.

No one solution

It speaks to a “labour mismatch” created by populations moving, fewer people in the workforce, and structural changes in the economy such as the rise of ecommerce. A solution is unlikely to come quickly and will require a range of actions from rethinking the employee value proposition, beyond wages, to using automation, and deploying people analytics to improve retention.

In the UK, the government has been encouraged to “listen to drivers” to improve wages and working conditions, as covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.

Transport and logistics workers: mental health issues

Meanwhile a study estimates that one in ten employees in the UK transport and logistics sector (10%) have left their jobs due to excessive stress in the last year.

The 2021 Stress and Mental Health study spoke to employees at 67 transport and logistics businesses about stress and mental health issues in the workplace.

The survey by the Vape Club reveals that the quitting rate is double that of retail employees, and more than healthcare workers over the same period.

Half of transport and logistics workers report they have suffered from excessive stress over the last year and another 17% of workers are considering leaving their job because of stress. 

Key findings

  • More than one employee in eight who suffered from excessive stress believe their company didn’t provide enough support
  • 27% of employees from the sector have taken time off work for mental health reasons in 2021
  • 7% have required unpaid leave due to mental health issues – double the number of those that took unpaid leave due to physical health problems
  • Nearly half (46.7%) of employees have been struggling to sleep properly.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Better conditions and pay would help attract and retain staff, and make for a healthier, more resilient labour market.”