It’s only March, and 2020 is turning out to be quite a year. One that started with legislation to restrict entry into the UK population of ‘low-skilled’ foreign labour. The new government policies generated a good deal of controversy from the moment they were announced. The so-called ‘points-based system’ aims to promote entry into the UK by only the ‘best and the brightest’ which leaves many essential roles in the supply chain unrepresented.
Now though, the efforts designed to reduce the number of foreign workers seem secondary to the meltdown caused by COVID-19’s arrival on our shores. Now our leaders are dealing with an interloper that’s very difficult to control and much less benign. You can be sure there’ll be lots more comment on this subject over the coming months.
Compounding The Current Shortage
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) have expressed their concerns
about the proposed immigration policies. As representatives of the
logistics industry, the FTA is worried the new legislation will lock
EU workers out of an already under-resourced sector. With record
numbers of vacancies, driven by declining EU net migration, the
industry is seeing a 43% rise in job vacancies since the Brexit vote.
As the FTA’s Head of Skills Policy, Sally Gilson outlines:
‘…with EU workers currently constituting 13% of the entire logistics workforce, it is obvious how detrimental this policy will be on the very businesses charged with keeping the UK trading. If the government insists on withdrawing access to EU workers, it will have to adapt and adjust its allowances for training; the burden should not solely lie on UK businesses.’
The FTA go further in their criticisms, especially in their dismay that logistics roles, including HGV driving, are defined as ‘unskilled’ under the proposed new regime. The FTA’s reservations echo the oft-mentioned objection that the Government's policy favours academic achievement over the considerable contribution that vocational jobs offer to the UK economy.
To offset the potential difficulties that staff shortages may bring, the FTA is asking the government to reconsider their position. They are reminding ministers of the vital role the sector plays in delivering essential goods to shops, hospitals, manufacturers etc. The FTA is making a direct request to the government that they make exceptions for EU logistics staff to ensure that the economy can continue to function efficiently. And as Sally Gilson warns re the alternatives:
“While businesses within the logistics sector will do everything possible to keep the UK trading, without adequate levels of staff, operations will become strained and UK plc will inevitably suffer.”
The Shape Of Things To Come
The disruption related to COVID-19 has brought capacity shortages in the supply chain into sharp relief. Even though the FTA compiled their report before the current issues, the points they make are already being starkly illustrated.
We can only hope this will be a ‘penny drop’ moment for the government.
Finally, the Truckcraft team would like to extend our best wishes to clients and industry colleagues at this challenging time for the UK. We hope everyone can manage the issues effectively, keep staff safe and continue their vital role in supporting us all at this time of crisis.
While 2020 will be a challenging year, it’s also one in which the logistics sector will show what a vital part it plays in the wellbeing of our country and society. Ours is an industry that everyone in the UK should recognise and celebrate for the indispensable contribution it makes.
If you’d like to come along and try our market-leading our range of trucks or vans, please contact the Truckcraft Bodies sales team on 0161 304 9404.
Published: Mar 23