Logistics UK calls on DVSA to tackle driver testing backlog

Trade body Logistics UK has called on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to maintain its vocational driver testing programme to meet the problems of the UK driver shortage.

CEO of Logistics UK David Wells has met with DVSA CEO Loveday Ryder and says he has been encouraged by the progress made so far by the government agency but says more needs to be done. “While DVSA is now delivering vocational tests at around double its pre-pandemic weekly volumes, I queried whether this is sustainable under the organisation’s current set up. More than 30,000 LGV driving tests did not take place between March and December 2020, with even more cancelled during the lockdown at the start of 2021, meaning that potential employees have been denied entry to their chosen profession at a time when logistics businesses need them urgently.

“It is vital that DVSA maintains the testing rates which have been achieved in the past couple of weeks, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. The volumes of outstanding tests are preventing at the very least 15,000 applicants with successful passes from joining the sector at a time when our supply chain desperately needs their skills.”

One of the solutions to the backlog of driver testing would be to outsource it, as the DVSA has done to a small extent to date. The backlog could impact the UK’s supply chain as there is a recruitment problem for new drivers with more and more EU drivers not returning to the UK. Wells continued, “Logistics has suffered from a skills shortage for some time, but with the loss of our EU nationals, the situation has now become acute, with more than 76,000 drivers needed by our sector. Restarting testing and catching up with the backlog of outstanding driving tests is the single biggest step that can be taken to fill some of the industry’s vacancies, but employers – whose turnover has been hit hard by the pandemic – need more support, such as interest free loans or grants, to help cover the costs of driver training, which can run to thousands of pounds.

“The Apprenticeships scheme also needs an urgent overhaul, to make the qualifications on offer more business friendly, and to increase the funding band for the new HGV Driver apprenticeship standard. Without these changes, our sector will find it increasingly difficult to deliver for customers right across the economy.”

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