West Yorkshire responds to shortage of HGV and bus drivers as it hits crisis levels

West Yorkshire has responded to the shortage of active HGV drivers in the UK with impacts on the wider economy becoming more evident.

By Alex Grant
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 11:45 am

The national shortage further exacerbates a local shortage of bus drivers, with drivers tempted into higher paid vacancies.

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A combination of factors has contributed to the current situation, many are long standing issues that have been compounded by recent events.

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The national shortage further exacerbates a local shortage of bus drivers, with drivers tempted into higher paid vacancies. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed to fund training providers for them to offer HGV and PSV driver courses where the cost of HGV and medical licenses can be fully funded.

Before the West Yorkshire Devolution deal, adult skills saw a significant reduction in funding, impacting the training opportunities of many adults across West Yorkshire.

Now the Combined Authority has taken responsibility for the region’s £65million annual Adult Education Budget (AEB); funding can be assigned towards skills priorities that have been developed closely with partners including Local Authorities, training providers and local employers to ensure funding is used to meet local skills and employment needs.

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire held a roundtable with the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) sectors to better understand the impact.

“Meeting with the HGV and PSV sectors gave us valuable insight into the cause of the crisis and allowed us to realise what we as a Combined Authority can do to support the crisis in West Yorkshire." Mayor Brabin said.

“Through the Adult Education Budget, we aim to give training providers the funding they need to train more HGV and PSV drivers and give them the much-needed licenses to improve the shortage and give many local people employment opportunities.”

Feedback confirmed that there are multiple issues which have resulted in the shortage, with the industry focusing on significant wait times for provisional licenses, examinations, and a hiatus in training more examiners.

This was especially the case for PSV employers who reported that that they were not experiencing a significant shortage of people attracted to the role, but that the significant wait times were the main issue.

Applicants tend to find other jobs while waiting through this process, which lasts 6-8 weeks rather than the usual 7-10 days.

For HGV drivers, feedback largely focused on the need for national interventions. This included poor facilities across the UK, and European haulage rates that UK firms cannot compete with. This was highlighted as a contributing factor to the shortage of women in the HGV workforce.

“Our economy is bouncing back since the pandemic, however in order to fully recover we must be able to trade goods and get people to and from work. HGV and PSV drivers are crucial in achieving this, which is why it is so important we fund this training." explained Sir Roger Marsh.

There are 380,000 people in West Yorkshire - 26 per cent of the working age population - who have low or no qualifications: AEB aims to engage with these individuals to increase their skills, benefiting both communities and the economy.

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