According to figures from the business group Logistics UK, 27,144 HGV vocational tests were undertaken between October and December in 2021, representing a 53.5% increase compared with the same period in 2019.
Although the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of HGV drivers in the workforce fell in 2021 compared with 2019, the number of HGV drivers appears to be stabilizing in 2022. There was a decrease of 49,000 drivers between October and December in 2021, compared with 2019, which is broadly the same as the period between July and October 2021 but significantly less than the fall earlier in the year. This is thought to be due to the number of driving tests increasing as a result of greater capacity provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy at Logistics UK, commented, “The new ONS data shows that attracting new entrants to the profession, and ensuring sufficient tests are available, are key to the resilience of the logistics sector. The long waiting list to take a vocational HGV test in Great Britain has been a key contributor to the driver shortage crisis; the data in the report revealed today shows that the DVSA is making progress in catching up on the testing backlog, which grew out of the restrictions under the Covid-19 pandemic. Logistics UK will be working with its members and government to ensure focus remains on reducing the shortfall in HGV drivers.
“The number of van drivers in the workforce is soaring, with a net increase of 17,000 of these workers in Q4 [October to December] 2021, owing possibly to new job opportunities arising in this market, with demand for online shopping increasing throughout the pandemic.”