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Driver shortage set to disrupt supply chain

The supply chain to the UK’s leading manufacturers is teetering on the edge of collapse this summer and needs urgent Government intervention – Enginuity has warned. A ‘perfect storm’ brought about by a Brexit exodus of European drivers, Covid testing delays at UK and European ports, self-isolation, a hiatus in training and examining HGV driver, and summer holidays are blamed for the acute shortage of drivers.

Ann Watson.

New research from Enginuity shows there are currently approaching 100,000 vacancies for HGV 1&2 and delivery drivers – whilst there are more than 4,000 unfilled positions for transport planners and analysts.

The acute shortage of lorry drivers, which is already causing some food shortages, is beginning to disrupt the manufacturing process across the country and with the summer holidays looming, experts fear the situation is going to get a whole lot worse.

Ann Watson, chief executive of Enginuity Group – a not-for-profit organisation supporting skills development across engineering - has called for urgent talks with government to avoid a catastrophic breakdown in the production line.

“This constitutes a very dangerous situation which threatens to derail the Covid recovery. We are on the verge of a crisis which threatens the viability of manufacturing across the country – we need some urgent intervention from Government before the House rises for summer recess. 

“Manufacturing is of strategic importance to the UK economy and never more so as firms seek to assert themselves globally post-Brexit. Supply chains have already seen major disruption due to parts and materials shortages caused by Covid. We are seeking a collective solution that will protect industry from the ripple effects of this crisis. Unless our supply chains function effectively, firms risk their own financial security – something which will have major knock-on effects for employment and skills. 

“In the short term, we are urging the government to reconsider adding foreign drivers to the Shortage Occupations list – a move which would provide some immediate easing and reduce the need to relax Drivers’ Hours rules.” 

The majority of HGV vacancies exist in the Southeast England, the East & West Midlands, the East of England and the Northwest – all major manufacturing hubs.

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