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FTA urges government action as UK logistics staff shortage approaches Brexit “crisis point”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that a growing shortage of logistics staff such as HGV drivers is primed to hit “catastrophic levels” after Brexit unless the government reforms apprenticeships.

The trade body said that there are currently large numbers of vacancies, including 54000 for HGV drivers, which would be compounded by the company’s exit from the European Union.

“From HGV drivers to warehouse staff, the UK economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce – businesses would come grinding to a halt and Britain would cease trading,” said Sally Gilson, the FTA’s Head of Skills, saying that the industry contributes £121 billion to the economy.

Gilson claimed that part of the shortage was due to the difficulty in securing funded training for logistics personnel via apprenticeships.

In April 2017 the government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy, which requires businesses with annual payrolls of over £3 million to pay 0.5% of their wage bill into a levy fund. They can then use this to pay for apprentices.

However, the FTA says the Institute for Apprenticeships has yet to approve standards for logistics apprenticeships that would allow businesses to make use of this money. It added that currently existing logistics apprenticeships required key amendments to be fit for purpose.

Gilson continued: “It has been immensely frustrating trying to secure funded training for the logistics sector. These apprenticeships would assist in promoting logistics professions and yet, over two years in, we feel like we’re no closer to gaining the standards we desperately need across the industry.”

The UK is technically set to leave the European Union on 29 March, although parliament is at the time of writing discussing an extension to the exit deadline.

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