Skills report shows UK reliance on EU workers in logistics

Tunbridge Wells, UK: If British business is to make a success of Brexit, its supply chain needs to have access to European workers in the short to medium term, according to the Freight Transport Association’s report into skills shortages in the logistics industry published today (23 November 2018).

Sally Gilson at the association has called on government to reassess its immigration system to ensure it is based on needs, not qualifications. “The Skills Shortage report again shows that logistics continues to struggle to recruit new HGV drivers – the industry currently needs 52,000 drivers for logistics businesses to be fully operational and continue to keep up with consumer and business demands,” she said.

“Having the freedom to recruit from across the EU has helped to keep our lorries and vans on the road but with uncertainty surrounding the parameters of a future immigration system, the logistics sector is concerned that there just won’t be enough drivers available to transport the goods and raw materials the UK is reliant upon,” Gilson said.

“The Migration Advisory Committee report recommended restricting lower-skilled immigration: however, logistics businesses are reliant on those workers to keep goods and services moving. Unless domestic workers can be incentivised to switch careers or take up a meaningful apprenticeship in logistics – something which the industry has been pressing government on for a while – businesses will remain dependent on these migrant workers. Without them, goods and services will simply fail to move around the country and across its borders. FTA is urging government to build its future immigration policy on what the UK requires to keep trading, not on a qualification or salary levels.”

“With Brexit looming large, businesses are having to prepare for all scenarios – but without knowing what a No Deal outcome could mean for both EU and UK citizens, it is impossible to plan staffing levels effectively. No one wants vehicles to grind to a halt, but it is a real prospect if the government does not prioritise the confirmation of the workforce which is tasked with keeping Britain trading.”

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