Surge in interest in HGV vacancies for UK from India and Pakistan

A surge in interest in heavy goods vehicle driver vacancies across the UK is largely down to enquiries from jobseekers based outside of the EU, according to research by a leading job site.

Drivers from the likes of India, the UAE, South Africa and Nigeria are among those who have registered an interest in vacancies.

However, the research by Indeed warned that non-EU drivers were less likely to have the necessary qualifications to start work right away.

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It also stressed the UK Government’s extended emergency visa scheme, which hopes to entice up to 5,000 drivers from Europe, may “barely scratch the surface of what is needed”.

Louise Moules, the Road Haulage Association’s regional operations manager for Scotland, also said with the clock ticking down to Christmas, existing efforts would not solve the shortage of HGV drivers.

It is estimated the shortage of drivers stands at around 100,000, a figure exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

Faced with chronic disruption to food and fuel supply chains, the government’s emergency visa initiative hopes to entice EU nationals to come to Britain to work.

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The shortage of HGV drivers has impacted on food and fuel supply chains. Picture: Getty

But Indeed pointed out that given many EU countries are grappling with their own HGV driver shortages, it was easier for European truckers to work visa-free in other EU countries than relocate to the UK.

Its analysis of recruitment data found while demand for HGV drivers in the UK has risen by 73 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, the spike is even more acute in Italy (105 per cent) and Spain (95 per cent).

Indeed said enquiries about UK-based HGV vacancies from jobseekers based outside the EU have soared by 627 per cent.

Jack Kennedy, an economist with the jobs site, said those expecting a major increase in EU HGV drivers utilising the emergency visa scheme were “looking in the wrong direction”.

He explained: “The fact that so many other European countries are wrestling with their own driver shortages means EU-based drivers may opt to stay close to home rather than move to post-Brexit Britain.

“Fortunately, there has been a big spike in interest from drivers from outside the EU. For them, British HGV jobs are likely to be highly attractive due to the rapidly rising salaries and sign-on bonuses on offer.”

However, Mr Kennedy cautioned that non-EU drivers will be less likely to have the CPC qualification needed to take to the roads in Britain, adding that “getting one could eat into the time in which overseas drivers can drive in the UK”.

Ms Moules said the RHA’s Scottish members had been contacted “quite a bit” by non-EU workers in nations such as India, Pakistan and South Africa.

She agreed the CPC qualification was an issue for non-EU workers, as well as retired drivers whose certifications had expired. The RHA wants those drivers to be allowed to complete a seven-hour course to be eligible to drive for 12 months.

Ms Moules added: “While the emergency visa scheme was welcome, the issue is the time it takes to process.

"We’re 11 weeks from Christmas, but by the time you process paperwork and people find somewhere to stay, they’ll be able to work for seven or eight weeks.

“Is that going to solve the driver shortage? Absolutely not.”

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