How has this company addressed the challenge of a nationwide shortage of LGV drivers

Bradfords Building Supplies LGV

As the nationwide shortage of LGV drivers continues, David Young, CEO at Bradfords Building Supplies, reveals how the company has addressed the challenge.

The latest problems with deliveries comes amid increased competition for specialist LGV drivers caused by a mix of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and tax changes that have prompted some drivers to leave the trade.  It’s currently estimated in the UK there’s a shortage of some 90,000 LGV drivers.

There is also a backlog of 45,000 lorry driving tests across the country, meaning at a purely practical level, whenever test dates are released, there are simply not enough to go around. Plus, as consumers have become more used to ordering goods online, there’s an ever-greater need for delivery drivers to support this.

Whatever the range of contributing factors may be, all sectors that rely on the movement of goods by road have been impacted by this and, as a business that depends on its team of drivers to serve our customers, we’re no exception.

Investment in training

For a number of years, we’ve offered our branch teams the opportunity for any staff members to train as LGV drivers, which would enable them to act as relief drivers in times of absence and, if they’re particularly keen, to apply for driver vacancies whenever they arise. This starts with the opportunity to learn how to confidently drive a van, followed by the chance to qualify in driving a tow vehicle and also a forklift. For those who are interested, we fund their qualification as an LGV driver, which means they’re able to drive a lorry.

While this is something we’ve had in place for years, we’ve recently ramped up our efforts to  internally promote our driver training opportunities,  plus we’re making sure that all new starters and apprentices are aware of the opportunity.

An important role

The work of our drivers goes far beyond simply delivering goods from one place to another. They are an important point of contact for our customers as an extension of our in-branch teams. They’re also often in the best position to identify new construction projects near their home branch and bring us that lead.

The nature of our work and the relationships they build with customers offers a lot of satisfaction for our drivers. And for other members of the team who are interested in upskilling, the chance to experience what it’s like to work as a driver is something they enjoy.

The pandemic has pushed back a lot of training and we are only now starting to see test slots opening up but in reality there are not enough for the number of people waiting. At the time of writing, there are 23 employees at various stages of becoming qualified LGV drivers, with eight due to take their tests imminently. Whilst we have benefitted from being ahead of the game in terms of training our own, we know that we need to continue to move our driver training forward with pace as the national shortage is only going to get worse and competition intensifies.

We’ve been serving the communities in which we operate for over 250 years, during which time we’ve had to overcome a multitude of challenges, from world wars and pandemics, to recessions and economic slowdowns. Again, while many of the factors that have contributed to this current challenge are out of our control, we’re confident that our added focus on training will help us to boost our team of drivers and ensure any impact on our service is minimised as much as possible.