How can Construction businesses use technology to tackle driver shortages?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

The shortage of HGV drivers in the UK has had widespread impacts on the supply of goods throughout Industries. Larger supermarkets have doubled the wages they pay their drivers as a short term solution to this long-term problem, whereas other businesses who rely on third-party services have suffered immensely and goods simply aren’t reaching the shelves.

For the UK’s construction industry, the impacts of a widespread driver shortage are obvious. Supplies and materials aren’t able to reach their destinations in time and in the correct amounts, which is putting strain on tight resources, budgets, and teams to get projects done in time.

So what are the various factors contributing to driver shortages in Construction?

Various factors have contributed to this ‘perfect storm’; Brexit and the ex-migration of existing drivers back to their countries of origin have contributed to this deficit, and the Government’s furlough scheme has resulted in a lack of potential workers looking to start working in the transport sector.

More long-term factors are the stigma attached to lorry drivers, and the stereotypes attached to these types of careers. This has meant that over decades, fewer and fewer people are being funnelled into a career in driving, resulting in the average age of an HGV driver in the UK being now 55. With a lack of young people looking for work in this field, the pool of potential employees is declining and the shortage we see today is worsening.

Furthermore, there are currently 600,000 people living in the UK who have an HGV drivers license but aren’t actively using it.

Issues for Construction & the consumer trickle-down effect

The Construction industry, and particularly small-medium sized construction companies are facing the brunt of these shortages.

Insufficient numbers of drivers has meant that supplies and building materials aren’t accessible or able to reach their destinations, either on time or at all. Businesses are struggling to provide waste removal along with a number of other basic supplies.

This has resulted in projects, big or small, are unable to be completed on time using the resources available, resulting in lost profits during an already stressful period.

Furthermore, drives are beginning to get paid more, to incentivise people to take up work and fill the gaps in these shortages, but this means that the price of construction is set to increase, which will cause a variety of issues and challenges down the road.

This will cause a trickle-down effect that replicates what we are experiencing in the retail sector. The need to meet demand with insufficient numbers of drivers has led to increasing pay for these workers, with this funding coming for rising food prices that have been passed on to the consumer. This has been criticised as being an unsustainable solution to an issue that has a variety of contributors.

With the attempts to reverse the impacts of these shortages on a Government and Industry-wide level being insufficient, what can be done on a business level to tackle driver shortages?

There are opportunities for individual businesses to address and prevent the impacts of these shortages, with careful investment in ways to use the resources they have available, in the most effective way.

Investment now for long-term relief and competitive advantage

Reviewing each aspect of the operation, seeing how well it works as a whole and addressing areas of inefficiency or profit l