My Department is very aware of the shortages of HGV drivers, as highlighted in recent years in the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the labour market intelligence of the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS. This is a critical matter, as road freight represents the most common means of transporting goods in Ireland, and as such is a vital aspect of the supply chain. Road freight in virtually all instances performs some role in the supply chain, even if it is simply to transport goods the last mile from a port or airport to the customer.
The research of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and Skills and Labour Market Research Unit has highlighted how this is a labour rather than a skills shortage, which occurs as a result of employers finding it difficult to attract and retain employees. This is representative of a Europe-wide situation whereby more HGV drivers are exiting the industry than entering it. The logistics sector as a whole has been identified as being unattractive to young people compared to other sectors, due in part to a negative perception based on the idea that work in the sector is generally low-skilled and involves long hours.
Arising from a recommendation in the latest logistics-related study undertaken by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs - Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit - my Department has agreed to chair a Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, composed of logistics and supply chain stakeholders and education and training representatives, which will work to support the promotion of careers, skills development and sustainable employment in Logistics and Supply Chain activities, including HGV driving.
This group, which is in the process of being established, will through cross-industry collaboration work to improve the profile of logistics and supply chain roles, making it easier to recruit talent; make progression pathways available to those entering or already working in the roles; ensure development opportunities are available to provide the skills, knowledge and competencies required; enhance employee retention; and provide a forum for ongoing communication and leadership by the logistics and supply chain stakeholders in addressing the skills needs of these activities in Ireland.