Brace For Impact

Attention Businesses: Brace for Impact – How to Navigate the Looming HGV Driver Shortage


Nationally we are in a period of instability within the transport industry, with a range of challenges such as driver shortages, soaring costs and inconsistent demand. Our own industry research suggests the majority of businesses feel they have enough drivers to meet the current demand, for those that don’t they are uncomfortable nurturing newly qualified drivers into the business as they have the choice of using agencies or tempting experienced drivers away from other businesses.

Our question is this: What happens when you don’t have a choice?

The industry is heading towards a potentially cataclysmic shortage, the Fig 1 represents data from the ONS (Office National Statistics), the yellow and light blue lines highlight the current number of active HGV licence holders working within the industry – this shows drivers between the 46-65 age bracket, totalling circa 170,000 plus an additional 15,000 in the 66+ bracket.

Fig 1

Drivers aged 45 and below amount to 109,000 meaning as the older aged drivers retire there are not the current numbers to ensure ongoing service nationally. Statistically (Fig 2) the volume of active HGV drivers in England has been fighting to return to the same level they were at prior to the start of the pandemic – we dropped to as low as 272,000 drivers in 2022.

Fig 2

So, what can we all do about it? Acknowledging the shortage, the government has invested tens of millions of pounds into not only bringing new drivers to the industry but also improving roadside facilities to bring them up to standard and keep drivers within the industry. What can businesses do to prepare for the shortage?

  • Assess the risk of your aging workforce leaving their roles either to retire or ill-health.
  • Consider national apprenticeships, utilising a minimum 95% funding to develop a new driver into the role within 12 months (licence gained after 3)
  • Consider newly qualified drivers whilst you have an option, statistically there will become a point where the industry doesn’t have a choice!
  • Analyse upskilling within the workplace, from warehouse to technician roles you could have employees that would make ideal drivers and fill any unexpected shortages
  • Utilise Skills Bootcamp funding of up to 100% – this can be used to upskills new or current drivers to C or C+E licence, ADR Dangerous Goods or Transport Management CPC.


SP Training have secured over £11.5 million in Skills Bootcamp funding, we have a national commitment to help the industry combat the growing shortage. To do this we need employer’s support to nurture and develop the new generation of drivers – protect your business, start your succession planning journey today!

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