Andrew Metcalfe, owner of Metcalfe’s Driver Training, sheds light on the current state of the trucking industry, the challenges it faces, and the promising future ahead.
“The transportation sector is the backbone of our economy, and the recent truck driver shortage has undeniably impacted businesses and the general public,” says Andrew Metcalfe. “Factors like the pandemic, an ageing workforce, and changing perceptions of truck driving as a career have all played a role. However, the latest insights suggest a brighter horizon.”
Recent reports indicate that HGV demand in the UK grew by 17.1% in the first quarter of 2023, marking the most successful start to the year for HGV registrations since 2019. “This surge in registrations, especially in rigid and articulated trucks, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the industry,” Metcalfe comments.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the increase in HGV registrations offers hope. “The rise in registrations can potentially ease the ongoing driver shortage, especially by providing opportunities for underrepresented groups,” Metcalfe states. “The trucking community has long been aware of the need for diversity. With younger drivers finding it hard to gain experience and many women feeling unsafe, it’s clear that more needs to be done.”
In response to the shortage, the UK government has taken significant steps. “The investment in HGV Skills Bootcamps, improved roadside facilities, and support for initiatives like Veterans into Logistics are commendable,” says Metclafe. “Such efforts have already shown results, with HGV driver employment seeing a significant increase in early 2022.”
Metcalfe also emphasises the importance of diversity in the industry. “A diverse workforce brings varied perspectives and experiences. Companies need to invest in training, promote an inclusive culture, and actively reach out to underrepresented groups,” he suggests. “It’s not just about filling vacancies; it’s about creating a positive, inclusive environment for everyone.”
On the topic of technology and the potential of driverless trucks, Andrew believes that while technology is advancing, the role of the driver remains irreplaceable. “Driverless technology is still in its infancy, especially for HGVs. Even if autonomous trucks become a reality, drivers will always be essential. Their role might evolve, but it won’t disappear.”
As of March 2023, the UK still faces a shortage of 60,000 drivers. “It’s a challenge, but we’ve made progress. Just a year ago, we were 100,000 drivers short. With continued efforts from the government and the industry, we can bridge this gap,” Metcalfe optimistically concludes.
Owned by Andrew Metcalfe, Metcalfe’s Driver Training is dedicated to providing top-tier training for aspiring truck drivers, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for the road ahead.