The Freight Transport Association has called on the government to clarify the working position for European employees after the UK leaves the EU, to provide some stability for a sector already facing significant skills gaps across key roles.
Workers from EU countries make up a substantial proportion of the logistics workforce in the UK – there are currently some 43,000 HGV drivers, 30,000 van drivers and 113,000 warehouse EU workers.
“We know the plan for those EU workers wanting to gain settled status, but not for those who come to the UK for seasonal work – the ones which businesses rely on to keep goods and services flowing,” said Sally Gilson, the FTA’s head of skills.
“As consumers, we just expect goods and services to be in place when we need them. In fact, logistics businesses keep Britain trading. But this situation could change drastically if the government does not allow continued access to seasonal workers.”
Gilson also warned that logistics is being seriously hindered by a lack of specialist, appropriate apprenticeships.
“Although the sector has worked hard to develop appropriate qualifications, the process is being prolonged by the Institute for Apprenticeship’s bad administration. We have been waiting for vital new standards to be approved for a year now and without them, businesses are prevented from spending their levy monies appropriately. The government’s own target of three million apprenticeship starts will continue to be unattainable until the apprenticeship system is overhauled to deliver what business needs.
“Logistics operators will do everything in their power to keep the nation’s trade flowing after Brexit, but must have access to the staff to actually do the jobs as required. Without them, the supply chain is set to fracture and disintegrate.”