Its director-general Tony Danker attacked the Government for a “self-defeating” refusal to turn to temporary measures and called for an urgent review of the shortage occupations list.
Mr Danker said: “Using existing levers at the UK’s control – like placing drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers on the Shortage Occupation List – could make a real difference. The Government promised an immigration system that would focus on the skills we need rather than unrestrained access to overseas labour. Yet here we have obvious and short-term skilled needs but a system that can’t seem to respond.”
Separately, Marks and Spencer has held an emergency summit of 40 of its biggest suppliers on Friday amid concern that post-Brexit paperwork due to be required at the border from October will make matters worse, the Mail on Sunday reported. The retailer’s chairman Archie Norman has demanded action from politicians to reduce the bureaucratic load before empty shelves become more common.
Read on for James Wroath’s comment on the state of the haulage industry
We must bring in foreign drivers to help with the Christmas rush
It has been an extraordinary time to be working in the UK’s logistics sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated already shifting consumer behaviours and tested the flexibility and adaptability of all businesses.
Meanwhile, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has brought about regulatory changes and challenges to day-to-day operations, not least in regard to hiring people. Dealing with any of these issues in isolation would have been a tall order, but their conflation has put intense pressure on supply chains.
I am proud of how we as an industry have responded: the cogs of the economy were kept turning by thousands upon thousands of dedicated and hard-working people in production sites and warehouses, and by drivers up and down the country. Indeed, the crisis brought into much sharper focus the value of supply chains and those who work within them, with the Government identifying our people as key workers alongside those in the NHS and other front-line services.
Now, however, we are facing into the fact that the flows of commerce have changed, perhaps for good – and as a country we have to keep pace with changes to ways of working. As we emerge from the pandemic and the economy reboots itself, availability of labour is not keeping up with the demands of doing business in the “new normal”. The next great challenge we face in our economy is one of people.