Driven out by Brexit, drivers are being wooed back to the U.K.

in October 1st, 2021

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After completing the final stage of Brexit at the start of the year, the U.K. said goodbye to 20,000 of its delivery truck drivers. These European drivers were no longer eligible to work in the U.K., who instead sought to invest in training more British drivers and improving pay. Months later, a shortage of workers is hurting supply chains.

To fulfill holiday deliveries, Britain is now allowing 5,000 temporary visas for European drivers to work within their borders for the three months leading up to Christmas. Concern is so high that the military could be called in as backup to drive trucks. Meanwhile the Defense Ministry may ask to speed up the process for truck licensing applications.

But critics say this isn’t enough as supermarkets alone need 15,000 drivers to operate at full capacity ahead of December 25th. Others say that there’s no proof Europeans will want these temporary visas and leave home unless offered a competitive salary given most European companies are also actively recruiting to fill driver demand.

Meanwhile in the U.S., driver shortages have led some Congress members to propose legislation allowing those as young as 18 years old to drive big rigs (large trucks with an attached trailer). The pilot program is included in the evolving infrastructure bill, with hopes of proving how young drivers can safely perform the job. Highway safety advocates, however, are citing concerns through an analysis showing how teenagers are more likely to crash cars than older drivers.t

Overall, critics claim that a driver shortage isn’t the problem at all; instead, they point to long hours and a grueling lifestyle with extended time away from home. Driver turnover is high and even fewer people want the job in the U.S. following the set up of a federal database last year that tracks the drug and alcohol use of anyone with a commercial driving license. And even with massive pay bumps for drivers in the U.K., workers say it’s not worth giving up a social life or time with their families.

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Want to learn more about the pilot for 18-year-old truck drivers? Find the details here.

Resource Center:

  • New York Times (Where we found this story) 5 days old | 12 minutes long
  • Wall Street Journal U.S. teens driving trucks 3 weeks old  | 11 minutes long
  • BBC Why lures for more drivers are failing 28 days old | 6 minutes long
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Good lorry! It’s been a long drive.

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