How can the HGV industry fill its workforce gap
A frustration amongst many in the HGV industry is the growing shortage of drivers, with the industry reaching “catastrophic levels” being 70,000 drivers short. The covid pandemic has caused several stumbling blocks in the road, damaging the recruitment process with queues for HGV driving tests going out the door. People stuck at home ignited a fuse in e-commerce activity, with estimated delivery dates increasing and the supply chain struggling to keep up with demand.
The shortage in available drivers has also led to an increase in overworked drivers, which resulted in wage increases by 40% in September 2021. Despite these rises, the industry has still been unable to encourage new drivers, only adding to the growing frustrations amongst those working in the supply chain. With many people struggling with the economic climate, businesses may need to look further afield if they want to attract a more diverse workforce.
Diversity in the talent pool
The government has answered the calls of labor shortages, acknowledging the “ageing workforce and a lack of diversity in the industry” and in response, committing £34 million to training HGV drivers, as well as supporting other growth initiatives. Whilst this will benefit the industry, it is predicted to bring in only 11,000 more drivers, suggesting there is still a way to go before the industry can return to its previous success.
Like many areas of the supply chain, the HGV industry is lacking in both age and gender diversity, with many people put-off by long-standing stereotypes. The BBC has reported that only 1% of HGV drivers are women, underlining the need for the industry to expand its efforts to encourage a wider talent pool.
As is common in recent years, social media has seen people championing and glamorising their industry, promoting the benefits and what it’s like to work in the industry. The 1% of women HGV drivers is no exception, with a handful posting videos to TikTok, among other platforms, to show the world what it’s like to be a female in a male-dominated industry.
Since its launch, TikTok has been shaking up the world and the way people consume media – targeting a generational-wide audience with short-form video content. A recent, yet consistent trend in recent years, has been people sharing their professions to a potential audience of millions, no matter how un-exciting some may consider it. People are intrigued by behind-the-scenes footage, and adding a personal element equal to the viewer only warms them to more viewers. Whether it’s fast-food flipping or dirty pool cleaning, shining a light on an otherwise alien industry does a lot to open the door to industry outsiders.
One TikTok user @amberx_99 has one of the most-liked videos using hashtag #ladytruckeruk, receiving over 21,000 likes and more than 700 comments. The video features the text “show you and then your dream job”, along with footage of Amber driving. One comment on this video reading “thanks for showing that us Pakistani girls can do anything and everything” to which Amber has replied, “that’s the point I’m trying to make, anyone can do anything.”
Despite a generational-wide audience, GenZ is the most active on the platform, and with 80% of young people saying they use social media when looking for a new role, having a relatable user creating an engaged community helps expand industry interest among a diverse audience.
In a recent BBC Three documentary entitled ‘Queen of Trucks’, Shannan Paterson was interviewed about her 8-year experience working in the trucking industry. Despite working in a male-dominated industry and acknowledging that older drivers are surprised that she is in her role, it doesn’t put her off, saying she ‘enjoys being a woman in a strongly male-dominated environment’. Overcoming adversity not only helps break down the stigma but also creates a positive mindset for young women interested in joining the industry.
With many millennials and Gen Xs still using long-form and traditional media, having a documentary and multiple news outlets highlighting career opportunities in the HGV industry contributes greatly to removing the stigma surrounding the industry. With parents now exposed to jobs they once ruled out for themselves, having a deeper insight into non-conventional and outside-the-office jobs will help them when talking to their children about future career paths.
The shortage of HGV drivers is growing, and with a delay in HGV tests and recent government investment only estimated to bring in 15% more drivers, the recruitment system may require a large overhaul that attracts a wider and diverse talent pool.
With government data showing a decrease in license holders in 2022, the attempts to encourage the next generation may need to be sped up. Whilst the current efforts being made by the 1% of women HGV drivers do make it a lot easier to bring in a younger and more diverse generation, a boost in interest may require additional government investment.
This article was written by Rob Winter, content writer for Europa Truck Parts.