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Truck Driver Shortage Could Ruin UK’s Holiday Season

British_highwayHere at BigRoad we’ve often discussed how the shortage of truck drivers is causing major headaches in North America. But the United Kingdom is facing its own driver shortage and it now looks as if that problem could have a serious impact on the UK’s holiday shopping season.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills currently estimates that the United Kingdom — where roughly 60 per cent of all goods are shipped by highway — is short 60,000 truck drivers. It’s a problem that has led to concerns that retailers won’t be able to get the goods they need to have a successful holiday season.

According to reports, retailers are using odd strategies to meet the demand: for example, in some cases warehouse workers are being trained to drive commercial vehicles. In other cases retailers are hiring truck drivers from abroad. There are even reports that the army is being asked for assistance.

That’s led Patrick McLoughlin, the nation’s Transport Secretary, to tell Britons to get their holiday shopping done as soon as possible. Leave it too late, McLoughlin suggests, and you might be left empty handed.

So, how can we explain the UK’s driver shortage?

Most experts point to new legislation which requires commercial truck, coach, and bus driver acquire what’s known as a driver certificate of professional competence (known as a CPC). At roughly $4,700 USD, many drivers — especially those on short-term contracts — consider the CPC very expensive. In addition, drivers must participate in 35 hours of mandatory government-sanctioned training every five years.

According to Jamie Boyd, a former trucker and currently managing director at haulage company Today Team Ltd, it’s all very confusing and frustrating for the UK’s older commercial drivers, who are having trouble understanding why their experience seems to count for so little. “Some of the older drivers don’t really understand why they need to do this,” said Boyd.