Latest updates: UK shortage will persist as truck drivers leave in droves, ONS says
The decline in the number of middle-aged and European truck drivers has contributed to the departure of more than 50,000 people from their jobs in the past four years in the UK, creating the worst shortage on record and disrupting businesses.
Heavy truck drivers in the UK peaked in the year ending June 2017 at around 321,000. Since then the total has fallen by 53,000, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. a decrease of 16%.
The number of people aged 46 to 54 has since fallen 39% to 34,000, the largest drop of any age group. During the same period, EU truck drivers fell by 30%, or 12,000 people.
The decline should persist as few new drivers are entering the profession. In the year ending June 2021, 16,022 heavy truck driving exams were taken, down from an average of 41,731 per year over the previous five years.
The drop in the number of drivers comes at the same time as the demand for goods has accelerated with the reopening of the economy and the take-off of e-commerce, leading to an increase in the number of vacancies.
There were 52,000 vacancies in transport and storage during the three-month period July to September, the highest on record. Heavy truck drivers make up about one tenth of the people employed in this industry.
The ONS reported that more than one in five UK companies said the lack of carriers or logistics equipment was a challenge. Almost a third of consumers had difficulty obtaining groceries, drugs or other essentials.