Future transport contracts and industry success hang in the balance reflecting the desperate need for relevant policy changes.
The RHA has recently put together a manifesto addressing key areas of concern from the sector. Given the current dramatically changing political climate, the opportunity for establishing beneficial policies for the industry is ripe for the taking and the issues blur across party lines. Relevant policy changes will not only increase the number of transport contracts and business to business successes, but will also level the playing field with Europe for our UK companies and employees.
A Manifesto for the Future
The RHA’s manifesto for the future is intended to identify ways of encouraging economic growth within the UK’s haulage industry. In a previous article we’ve already identified the issues regarding road investment, fuel duty and emissions control. However, equally important are the concerns about a diminishing workforce and Brexit. Positive changes will see a higher number of transport contracts coming in and an increase in the number of skilled workers available to employers.
The Government and the industry need to actively encourage applicants with quality apprenticeship programmes and better working conditions. The RHA’s manifesto states that:
Ensure that they deliver the required funding for the newly agreed Trailblazer apprenticeship and that the RHA can act as an intermediary for smaller firms.
Implement a mechanism to help fund licence acquisition.This is absolutely critical for encouraging new entrants, in particular those leaving schools and colleges. The cost of obtaining a HGV license is up to £5,000 and therefore beyond the reach of many.
Support industry employment schemes and explore other means of expanding initiatives such as Road to Logistics, a charitable organisation backed by the RHA and Care after Combat that matches jobseekers with employers and is aimed at reducing unemployment and reoffending. It has particular focus on the disabled, young people leaving care, veterans and ex-offenders. This works alongside another RHA initiative, ‘She’s RHA’, to help to encourage women into our sector.
Support and help our industry build on the success of the RHA’s first two national awareness weeks, ‘Love the Lorry’ aimed at improving the image of the industry in the eyes of the media, the public, policy makers, potential industry recruits and of course the next generation.
The RHA’s manifesto clearly outlines the requirements for UK haulage and logistic companies to remain competitive and increase the number and value of their transport contracts after Brexit:
Retain the current UK border at Calais and ensure that the Le Touquet agreement remains in place to maintain the juxtaposed border controls in each country.
Ensure frictionless customs procedures at borders to allow easy movement of goods across Europe, especially at Calais and between Eire and Northern Ireland. Failure will result in chaos on either side of the Dover Strait as ports and officials are overwhelmed by the 10,000 goods vehicles that cross the English Channel each day. Beyond that, approach roads will be paralysed by HGV’s awaiting processing and all supply chains, from supermarket supplies to parts for the automotive sector will face major disruption.
Ensure that the current licensing system for HGVs on international journeys between the UK and the EU remains. This is an effective licensing system and there is no advantage for the UK or the EU in making substantial changes.
Ensure that our industry retains the ability to recruit HGV drivers and other workers from abroad based on the industry needs. There are 60,000 drivers currently working in the UK who are from other EU member states. While improved efforts to train drivers in the UK will help ease the shortage there will be continuing a need to recruit from outside the UK. With a current driver shortage of 45,000 these workers are critical for the competitiveness of the UK economy and the smooth running of the supply chain.
The Future is Bright
Many say that these changes are long overdue and their delay has proven to reduce the number of transport contracts awarded and has created a disillusioned workforce. Although this may be true, all can agree that now is the time to strike while the iron is hot and implement relevant policy changes that only prove to encourage the economic growth of the UK’s haulage industry.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with transport contracts. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.