As we draw closer to Christmas, many UK companies are struggling with a major transport problem. HGV drivers are in short supply, placing huge pressure on freight services. In this blog, we explain how short term HGV hire could help companies to minimise this problem and meet customer demand.
Commercial vehicles for Christmas
Demand for HGVs is growing rapidly in the UK, thanks to the rising popularity of online shopping and the rapid approach of Christmas. In previous years, retailers have struggled to keep up with high levels of demand, and late deliveries have damaged reputations. Shoppers now expect fast, reliable and convenient delivery services. Retailers will be in fierce competition to win over customers this Christmas, so it’s vital that they can deliver.
Fleets face a skills shortage
There has been a spike in newly-qualified drivers in response to the recent shortage. However, the long term trend still shows a significant drop in the number of HGV licence acquisitions. As a result, the UK haulage industry is facing an “unprecedented shortage” of HGV drivers.
FTA skills policy development manager Sally Gilson reported a current shortage of 50,000-60,000 drivers. Furthermore, Auto Trader recently claimed that HGV drivers have an average age of 53, which suggests a rapid rate of retirement throughout the next few years.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has even been approaching ex-military and reserve personnel to train as HGV drivers in order to close the skills gap, according to some sources. Many of these personnel may already have the required driving licences, and would therefore require minimal training for employment in the freight industry.
HGV driving tests now taking more time
According to Commercial Motor, the average waiting time for a HGV driving test has also increased by more than two thirds in the past 11 months.
There are currently 49 centres across the UK that offer HGV driver tests. In early August 2015, 33 of these centres had seen an increase in their waiting times in comparison to October the previous year. The average wait has risen from 3.1 weeks to 5.4 weeks in less than a year, climbing at a staggering rate of 75%.
Phil Lloyd, head of operations at DVSA, explained: “Demand for driving tests is increasing and we are working to ensure people can take their driving test as quickly as possible.”
“As part of this, we are in the process of recruiting more HGV examiners. We have also been working with the industry to try and ensure that we continue to provide the best service we can as demand continues to rise.”
Flexible HGV hire can meet your fleet needs
The search is on for more HGV examiners and new HGV drivers, but what about the vehicles themselves? HGVs are very expensive to purchase, especially new models that offer the latest driving safety features and emissions reducing technologies.
Many companies will experience a peak in fleet activity over the winter months, but struggle to afford any additional capacity. Luckily, HGV hire can help companies to expand their fleet without the financial burden.
Enterprise Flex-E-Rent has thousands of HGVs within a varied commercial fleet, including Euro 5 and Euro 6 models. We even provide a range of vehicle modifications to suit specialist industry requirements. From adding equipment such as tail lifts to building fully refrigerated box bodies to order, we can meet your HGV hire needs.
Flexible HGV hire is also available to many of our customers, providing the perfect balance between affordability and flexibility. Enjoy the low cost of contract hire, with the choice of ending the lease term early with only a fortnight’s notice.