I am very live to the growing problem of HGV driver shortages in the road haulage industry. The dedicated work of these professional drivers during the pandemic kept our supply lines open, highlighting the importance of their work.
At lot is already being done to help address the problem and in July I asked the National Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, which is chaired by my Department, to examine the issue and to make recommendations as a matter of urgency. All relevant Departments and agencies, as well as the haulage and logistics sector, are represented on the Group. I expect to receive their report by the end of the month.
The HGV driver shortage issue is not confined to Ireland – it has been a growing issue across Europe and globally for a number of years. The pandemic and Brexit have had a huge impact across the labour market.
Among the issues being considered by the Skills Group and where action might help alleviate the driver shortage are:
- promoting the profession and the training available in order to increase the numbers qualifying as HGV drivers in Ireland,
- improving the profession as a fulfilling life long career,
- increasing the number of non-EU/EEA countries with which Ireland has entered into HGV driver licence exchange agreements, to allow drivers from these countries to apply for Irish employment permits,
- helping Irish employers to recruit drivers from overseas.
My Department is actively considering these issues with other relevant Departments and agencies and the industry itself through the Skills Group and I look forward to receiving its report shortly.