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How to Get Your Foot on the Logistics Career Ladder

The thought of a career change is a prospect which is exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. The endless opportunities and the chance to completely change your day to day activities is an incredibly exciting thought, but then the question must be asked: how do I even start a new career?

For those thinking about switching lanes (pun very much intended) and making the move into a career as a professional driver, we have a simple message: you’ll be choosing a rewarding career, and help is out there to make this a reality.

Now, as a professional driving recruitment firm, of course we’ll say it’s a rewarding career – but here’s why. Working in the logistics and transport sector can mean flexible hours – ideal for those looking to start a family. The industry is one where you’re always supported by a dedicated team and build strong relationships, but the ability to travel the country has a sense of autonomy. Then there’s the salary benefits – the supply chain is an industry the country simply cannot function without, and of course a career in logistics can lead to opportunities in management and running your own fleet.

The first thing to consider when thinking about becoming a professional driver is whether you have the characteristics to suit the work. You must enjoy driving, employ patience, possess a strong knowledge and respect of road safety, enjoy your own company, display strong self-motivation and be in good physical condition.

There’s more to the job than sitting behind the wheel though, you’ll likely plan delivery schedules and routes with transport managers, monitor traffic reports to make sure your routes are clear, as well as carrying out general maintenance checks on your vehicle before and after journeys.

To become a professional driver, youmust be 18 years old or over and hold a full car driving license.  The next stage would be to find a reputable local LGV learner driver training provider, take & pass your test and then receive CPC Training, here at Drivers Direct we’re a JAUPT accredited CPC Training Centre – as we said, the help is here.  We offer training to our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies.  Via our website, we also offer a free digital tachograph simulator download which includes interactive tutorials which will take you through the different types of tacho machines.

In terms of working hours, they could vary but in a permanent position you can be expected to work up to 42 hours a week and overtime may be available, but the laws are strict (for good reason) on the number of hours spent driving and working in between rest breaks to ensure the safety of all road users.

We have a wide network of branches throughout the UK, offering vacancies for all classes of driver, you can view the positions here.  We operate within a wide range of sectors including postal, food production, DIY, building trade, general haulage and clothing distribution.  If you’re looking to hit certain requirements, as a customer of Drivers Direct, we can help you do that – why not get in touch and see what we can offer to your business to reach its goals?

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Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

It’s been hard to ignore the b-word that’s been on everyone’s lips and in the media since 29th March 2017.  Brexit has no doubt been the talk of the country and the world for that matter.  Ever since the referendum results were announced there’s been numerous companies offering their perspective on what they think it will mean for not just the UK but also their own businesses.  With Brexit we’re plunging into the unknown and the UK want answers.

 

With the recruitment sector and Brexit there’s been worries over talent shortages and questions over movability, especially as the recent whitepaper released by the Government stated that there would be free movement.  The report aims to offer a clear vision of what they want to achieve upon exiting the EU – but many are still feeling very much in the dark.  The one saving grace is that the UK plans to negotiate an arrangement that would allow UK nationals to visit the EU for short-term businesses purposes and vice versa for EU citizens.  This would offset any pressure on companies that have link to the EU, for example other offices or business partners.

 

However, some businesses have expressed their doubt in the Government’s ability to proceed successfully with Brexit plans.  The second quarter of 2018 has also seen some recruitment difficulties across various sectors including manufacturing, retail and hospitality – right down to fruit farmers, who are facing a lack of seasonal labourers leading to produce spoiling with too few hands.  It’s vital that UK businesses are brought out of the dark to find out what they can expect following the introduction of Brexit.

 

Recruitment in the professional driving industry, particularly with HGV drivers, is experiencing a similar issue to the fruit farmers.  Workers from the EU are staying in their home countries instead of coming over to the UK for work due to the uncertainty that Brexit poses as we near the leaving date with very little decisions made for the industry.  The Government is still working out the knots for their Brexit plans but the professional driving industry is already experiencing driver shortages, meaning clarity is urgently needed not only for UK businesses, but EU workers too.

 

James Hookham, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport

Association recently told industry press that although the recent whitepaper had offered positive proposals for certain areas of the logistics industry, issues such as the security of job status for skilled EU workers are still unspoken for.  The free movement of workers between the UK and EU needs to have further explanation, as well as providing reassurance to businesses who depend on those workers for the continuity of their deliveries.  Over 45,000 HGV drivers from Europe currently work in the UK; without the appropriate working permits, job losses could have a serious effect on the industry.

 

It’s safe to say that there’s been a lot of upset over the thought of the UK leaving the EU, with some even claiming it’ll have an apocalyptic effect!  At this stage in the game, we’re hoping for clarity for the recruitment sector as a whole, as well as what Brexit will mean for foreign drivers and working permits.  As an area that was lightly touched on in the Brexit whitepaper compared to other aspects of logistics, we hope to see a lot more discussion on it in the coming months.

 

 

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From the Front Lines to The Cab

From the Front Lines to The Cab

There’s no doubt that leaving the UK’s Armed Forces can be a daunting prospect, regardless of how long you’ve served.  Moving from the structured lifestyle of the forces to the quieter life as a civilian is a huge life-changing event and the rate of each individual’s transition varies depending on their experiences.  With this in mind, it should be remembered throughout this post that no two ex-service personnel are the same.

Here at Drivers Direct, we feel very passionately about helping ex-servicemen and women back into civilian life.  With our MD Gethin Roberts being an ex-serviceman himself, we understand that it can be difficult to get used to normal everyday life again.  Last year we were proud to raise £2,500 for the Victory Services Club in London following our annual employee black-tie ball.  We’re very supportive of the work they do as they aid both serving and ex-service personnel and their families.

Service personnel possess a great wealth of skills and a second-to-none work ethos that is truly unique.  Their skills can be so specialised that they may feel they have the wrong qualifications to work in a civilian role – but this isn’t the case!

In the Armed Forces, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and family where you’ll spend each day with the same people – leaving that behind can seem strange.  Not having the same weight of responsibility put upon yourself each day will also appear to be a strange concept, but our company prides itself in helping ex-service personnel into the professional driving industry.  As we recruit for temporary and flexible driving positions, we’re a great avenue for slowly introducing yourself back into the world of civilian work; and you could even find your new career.

Currently in the UK the logistics and delivery sector are experiencing a driver shortage which is in vital need of a solution and with Brexit drawing closer, this shortage has been predicted to worsen.

Being a professional driver for Drivers Direct brings many perks, offering a flexible lifestyle and the option to pick the jobs you want to do.  You’ll also have the chance to travel around the country, and meet fellow drivers and Logistics personnel. As a Logistics professional you’ll have your managers and fellow drivers and people you meet on the road to interact with, but you’ll always have your own personal space in your own cab.

To find out more how Drivers Direct can help you transition from the Armed Forces into a professional driver career, please get in touch with us.

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Drivers Direct on Employee Appreciation

Drivers Direct on Employee Appreciation

Last week was Employee Appreciation Day and it got us thinking about our fantastic Drivers Direct employees.  Employee Appreciation Day is all about rewarding, recognising and appreciating the work that employees do.  Here at Drivers Direct we believe this is important as the staff across our branches are all ambassadors of the business.

 

When we formed in 2002, our ambition was to open 5 branches and here we are in 2018 with 22 branches and set to open 3 more this year.  Even though we’ve grown, we still strive to offer the flexibility, innovation and personal touch of a small company; and employing the right people is vital for achieving this.  This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Rob Hicks, one of our Regional Sales Managers who feels his work is appreciated; “I feel my work is always appreciated and rewarded.  For example, I’ve been taken away to France for a weekend golf trip in the past and received gifts from my Ops Director for carrying out tasks outside my remit.”

 

Every summer we hold an annual ball giving our employees recognition for their service, commitment and achievements within the business.  It’s also a great opportunity for our teams to let their hair down and have a fun evening with their colleagues, outside of the working environment.  Last year, Luke Davies the branch manager of our Cardiff office won a trip to New York after the branch was awarded for being the most successful of the year.  Other awards include, trips to London and Paris, or long-service awards for those who have been with us for 5 years.

 

Ryan Roberts, the Regional Sales Manager for Wolverhampton has worked with us for just over 4 years and adds, “Every year we look forward to our annual ball, we have a night out with our colleagues whilst raising money for well-deserved charities at the same time.”

Commenting on the annual ball Vicky Hinks, Administration Manager at Head Office adds; “It is a chance to meet the other branches and put names to faces, for me this is a great opportunity as working in Head Office I support all of our branches on a daily basis.  It allows relationships to be formed which assists in the smooth running of the business.”

 

To further show our appreciation for our staff, prizes are given to a ‘Consultant of the Month’ in each Region and there’s an annual visit to the London Comedy Store for senior managers.  Employee benefits also include vouchers and we also have a policy for promoting within to encourage development at the company.

 

Our culture here at Drivers Direct has been labelled as unique, honest, open and fair, and we strive for this consistently throughout our branches.  We also understand that our employers are the key to our success and that’s why we work hard to recognise and rewards their efforts as a way of showing our appreciation for that they do.

 

If you’d like to work with us, you can see all of your job listings on our website.

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Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

With tachograph tampering being a hot topic over the last year we thought we’d explore and delve into the issues that surround it.  Tachographs have an integral part to play in HGVs and commercial vehicles as they record driving time, breaks, rest periods and other types of work carried out by the driver.   When the UK joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973, a social regulation was accepted under the treaty of Accession to support the work of lorry and coach drivers.  In 1979 the UK was held in breach of the rules and regulations and new legislation was put in place to make sure all commercial vehicles had tachographs installed by the end of 1981.  Fast forward to 2006 and the digital tachograph was born and compulsory for all new commercials registered on or after 1st May 2006.

 

 

More recently, tachographs have seen a lot of attention in the news and, unfortunately, this isn’t because they’re incredibly helpful and useful to the wellbeing of drivers.  A BBC investigation found last year that there had been a 21% increase in tachograph tampering compared to 2016.  In a bid to crack down on these misdemeanours, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 223,000 roadside checks between April 2016 and March 2017 – a move we fully supported.  During that time, the DVSA found 400 drivers that had crossed the border into the UK and were using “interrupters” to switch off their tachographs.  A Bulgarian driver was stopped in North Wales for using an “interrupter” and driving non-stop for 23 hours.  Using such a device disables a lorry’s advanced braking system and speedometer – a dangerous move which poses a threat to all road users.

 

The whole concept certainly begs the question of why drivers would cheat their tachograph and risk their own and other road users’ safety.

Are unscrupulous businesses themselves putting the pressure on drivers through their company culture of looking the other way, making it appear to be the norm for drivers to exceed their legal hours?  There’s also the darker side, are some drivers distracted by the attraction of more money and finding that tampering with a tachograph is a short cut to this?  Alternatively, could these unscrupulous business owners be allowing this and looking the other way?

 

The consequences of breaching the use of a tachograph start with penalties of up to £5000.  A prison sentence isn’t out of the question either, as was found with two former haulage directors who conspired with drivers to tamper with tachograph records.  They both received sentences of 2 years and 18 months and had some hefty fines to pay.  On a more serious level, crimes of this nature have caused a tragic amount of unnecessary deaths on the road.  According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents driver fatigue may be a contributory factor to 20% of road accidents and 25% of fatal or serious crashes.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we work closely with all our clients and together we take the safety of HGV drivers very seriously and of course others on the roads.  The dangerous decision to tamper with a tachograph can have devastating consequences, with this in mind it’s of vital importance for logistics operators to communicate with their employees and vice versa.  If a driver is feeling concerned about meeting strict deadlines, it must be addressed in a safe and legal manner.  One conversation with an employer could discourage break skipping and, in turn, save a life.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we encourage plenty of communication between drivers and management, creating a culture where all can bring forward any issues they may have.  We hope that other businesses follow – for the sake of drivers’ physical and mental wellbeing and the safety of our roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 - A Year In Review

2017 – A Year In Review

It’s December already and we can’t quite believe where the time has gone as we edge into the New Year.  We’ve been reflecting on this past year at Drivers Direct, thinking about our success and the achievements of our team.

In February, we became members of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) – following our MD Gethin Roberts’ attendance at an ARC presentation.  We found that our objectives and values ran parallel to ARC which was a deciding factor for joining, as well as the association covering issues that really matter to those working in the recruitment sector.

May saw us through to the finals at the Global Recruiter Awards in the Best Use of Social Media Category for our anti-drink driving campaign; where we used striking posters to show the devastating effects of drinking and driving.  It was fantastic to have been nominated for the category and a great day was had by all at the Café de Paris in June.

We had our successful annual black tie ball for our employees back in May, showing recognition to the branches whose hard work has really shone through over this past year.  The Doncaster office was named as one of the most successful branches with their manager, Jason Hardisty winning a trip to London.  Kaylie Parker at the Eastleigh branch won a trip to Paris following their win of the ‘Highest Margin’ title.

After providing Drivers Direct with 5 top quality years of service, Christopher Unsworth of the Leyland branch, David Dawson of the Sheffield branch and Maxine Mew of the Sutton branch were each given the ‘Five Year’ award – a well deserved nomination.  As the most top performing franchise, Manchester won ‘Franchise of the Year’, as well as a cheque for £1,500.  Scooping one of the top awards, Nana Bempong was dubbed ‘Employee of the Year’ as he was the most successful employee out of all the branches – quite the accolade!  As the Cardiff office was recognised as the most successful branch of all, manager Luke Davies, won himself the coveted trip to New York.

After creating a shortlist of charities to support at our annual ball, our staff chose the Victory Services Club which is a great cause which offers respite and welfare breaks, rewards and recognition along with a free membership for serving Armed Forces.  Everyone who attended our annual ball made a donation and in September we presented our donation to the club, having raised £250,000 for the charity – an achievement we’re incredibly proud of.  We hope with our donation further enables the club to give the best possible experience to those serving in the military, past and present.

All in all, it has been a great year for Drivers Direct. What’s on the cards for 2018? We’ll be opening 3 more branches, as well as setting our sights on moving to a bigger HQ as we look to further expand the business.

From all of us here at Drivers Direct, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Speed Down Save Lives

Speed Down Save Lives

Taking place this week (20th-26th November), Road Safety Week is encouraging drivers to ‘Speed Down Save Lives’.  The road safety charity, Brake, have been spreading their life-saving messages since 1997 with a different theme every year and this year they’re encouraging people to spare a thought for the impact of breaking the legal speed limit.

The charity shares some startling facts to support the importance of this years’ theme:

  • Police records detail that travelling too fast is a contributory factor for one in four (23%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.
  • Drivers that have committed just one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash compared to those with none.
  • 4 in 10 UK drivers admitted to driving at 30mph in a 20mph zone, according to result from a Brake survey.

These figures are a prime example of why road safety charities are so important.  As a recruitment company for drivers, we see ourselves as ambassadors of the road and always promote the highest levels of safety.  We’re delighted to see Road Safety Week focusing on such an important issue.

There’s no limit on who can get involved with this awareness week, people from all sectors and organisations are encouraged to get involved.  Your support can vary from tapping into the hashtag “#speeddown”, on social media and thinking about your own speed on the road to ordering an action pack to use at your workplace or local community gatherings.  If you’re stuck for ideas on how you can fundraise for Road Safety Week – there’s plenty of donation inspiration on their website.

Making a donation to Brake can help run their helpline, provide picture books for children who’ve been affected by road accidents and source road safety packs for early years educators.  In May of this year, Brake also gave their support to the United Nations Global Road Safety Week – focusing on managing speed and prioritising road safety worldwide.  A small change makes big results with research showing that just a 5% decrease in speed can cause a 30% reduction in fatal road accidents.  To think such a small difference could save a life, it’s incredibly important for all drivers to keep these types of statistics in mind when they’re on the road.

Here at Drivers Direct, as professional and highly trained drivers we take road safety very seriously and we think this campaign goes hand-in-hand perfectly with the new speeding fines implemented back in April of this year.  We think these new fines are a great way to discourage speeding on our roads:

  • Band A – Although this relates to the lowest level of speeding, you could find yourself with 3 points on your license with a fine of 50% of your weekly income. This band equates to driving between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone.
  • Band B – For more serious speeding, you could find 4 – 6 points on your license or even a disqualification between 7 and 28 days, including a fine of 100% of your weekly income. For example, you could be driving between 56mph to 65mph in a 40mph zone.
  • Band C – Reaching this band is a serious cause for concern as you would’ve been driving 51mph or above in a 30mph zone. That’s 6 points on your license and ban from driving from 7 up to 56 days along with a fine of 150% of your weekly income.

We encourage ALL road users to think about their speed and how a small decrease in speed can truly mean the difference between a normal day on the way to work or a fatal road accident.  If you’re aware of bad traffic on your route to work, you can actively make a change to your “need for speed” by leaving your house earlier than usual.

How will you be getting involved this year?

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Black Friday: Are You Ready?

Black Friday: Are You Ready?

The biggest sale event of the year is coming soon on 24th November, a day where the public tackle crowds and queues for their coveted Christmas shopping.  With the dramatic reduction in prices across retailers, sales will be set to soar – which will have a direct effect on the delivery industry.

An article in the Telegraph last November discussed how Black Friday doesn’t make people spend more money for Christmas, it just makes them spend earlier.  This leads to a demand not only during January clearances and the week run-up to Christmas, but also way ahead in November.

Most high street shops offer online shopping with the option to collect your items for free from your local branch.  However, customers are far more likely to opt for the consumer-convenient home delivery option; and Black Friday poses as an even greater challenge to drivers: with the dramatic reduction of prices comes a huge influx of online orders, each expected to be delivered directly to homes across the nation within a maximum of 5 working days.

Following last years’ reports on safety of delivery drivers during Black Friday, it’s important for retail managers to ensure that they have recruited enough driving staff to keep up with this high customer demand.  This is even more important given that last year the media reported empty high street shops as the Black Friday race took place online – leaving town centres quiet, but online shops full of people making their Black Friday purchases!

As Black Friday becomes more and more popular each year, it could be argued that November may replace December as being the peak trading month.  Not only that, online spends of up to £20 billion have been predicted – highly qualified, professional drivers will be more vital than ever for the consumer economy to run efficiently.

And although it is, of course, important to make sure customers are satisfied and receive their orders on time, it’s even more important to ensure that there is enough rotation amongst delivery staff to prevent fatigue behind the wheel.  Not only are well rested drivers a crucial health and safety measurement for delivery staff and other road users, but businesses will find that their retail supply chain becomes a far more seamless operation.

If you’re thinking about the logistics of your Black Friday sale, get in touch with our team of professionals today to discuss the benefits of taking on temporary driving staff during this busy season.

 

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music

Top 10 Songs to Improve Your Drive

Wednesday 21st June marks the start of the Fête de la Musique. Also known as ‘World Music Day’, it offers a global celebration of something that has a heavy presence within the majority of our everyday lives. Whether you’re a hairbrush diva or all your road trips have their own playlists, World Music Day should be celebrated – with experts concluding that there are a number of health benefits to listening (and singing!) to music at the wheel.

 

There’s nothing quite like a song you love, but had long-forgotten about, unexpectedly coming on the radio while you’re driving. But what exactly is the science behind that rush we get when we know every word to a nostalgia-filled song from yesteryear? Professor Stephen Clift, a leading authority on the health benefits of singing based at the U.K.’s Canterbury Christ Church University, says: ‘Singing loudly and free from inhibitions – really ‘letting go’ – means the mental release will be greater as more energy is put into it […] When we sing familiar songs loudly, we experience a ‘feel-good factor’ arising from deeper, slower breathing, and increased muscular activity. We feel less stressed and more relaxed.’ Even more of an excuse to crank up the volume!

 

Furthermore, Jan Schroll, supervisor Multi‑Media and Connectivity at Ford of Europe, says: ‘Experts agree that there are a range of health benefits to staging impromptu karaoke sessions at the wheel – ones we only feel truly comfortable giving when there is no one else around, and the in-car sound system is providing the backing. For many people listening to the music they love on the move is a fundamental part of every journey – it is the soundtrack to their own personal road movie.’ So, not only does blasting the tunes feel great, but it’s great for you, too.

 

Despite the huge shift towards more technological aspects of listening to music, such as streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, there’s nothing wrong with going old-fashioned, as displayed by a study from Edison Research. They conducted a study of more than 8,500 Americans aged 13 and over to determine where their time listening to music is spent. 44% of listening time was via AM/FM radio: by far the largest share. The number 2 share of listening time, at just 18%, was spent listening to music that had been purchased, such as CDs or digital downloads. So, if it’s the iPod you’re plugging in or relying on the good old-fashioned stereo, all evidence shows that it’s good for you in every way!

 

In celebration of World Music Day, here at Drivers Direct we’ve compiled a playlist of some of the best driving songs for your next journey:

 

Born To be Wild – Steppenwolf

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Jessica – The Allman Brothers

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO

Drive My Car – The Beatles

 

We hope this playlist will help you along your next long drive – and remember that as great as sing-alongs are, remember to keep focussed on the road and never let music distract you from safe driving.

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Young Driver Shortage – Enticing the Younger Generation

Many people dream of a job that allows them to travel the length of the country, head overseas, work flexible hours, meet new people every day and consistently receive professional support. Sound like it’s ticking all the right boxes? Some may be surprised to learn that the profession that perfectly fits this bill is a HGV driver, yet, despite its many perks, the industry is still struggling to recruit young people.

For the past two years, the haulage industry has been talking about the shortage of drivers. It is now, according to the House of Commons Transport Committee, widely accepted that this shortage reaches figures between 45,000 and 60,000. With 60% of HGV drivers aged above 45, and just 2% under the age of 25, the industry needs to find a way to motivate school leavers to consider choosing driving as a career path, so that when many of the existing drivers reach retirement, there will be a number of young people qualified and ready to step up into the available positions.

From being viewed as a ‘last resort’ career, to lack of awareness for the industry, there are a number of reasons why young people aren’t choosing the doors that the logistic industry opens. Largely, young people do not realise that the HGV industry is a viable career path; despite its net worth and its irreplaceable contribution to everyday life, the All Part Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freight Transport claim that there is not enough career guidance or education on the HGV sector.

The availability of training for young people is there – they simply need to be told about it. The APPG found that there are 142 higher education courses on logistics (or related subjects) available to school leavers in the UK, which includes courses at 48 different universities. As the education leaver’s age has more recently increased to the age of 18, the age at which a C+E licence can be acquired, it is hoped that more people will leave school and head straight into the logistics sector.

However, their report also believes that insurance has a large contribution to the matter; many under 25s cannot afford to become drivers because of the cost of insurance, and without a full car licence, you cannot then proceed to become a HGV driver. To counter this problem, transport experts are recommending that student loans should be provided to cover the cost of vocational courses and any expenses they may have, which may include insurance.

There are increasing calls for the government to improve funding for the sector in a bid to encourage young people to pursue a HGV driver career. Here at Drivers Direct, we’re also keen for this to happen as we are very aware of the detrimental effects this shortage could have on the industry in the long haul.

At Drivers Direct, we believe that each of our drivers are happy and comfortable in their jobs, and under our care, each are trained to the highest standards. We hope that in the future we can overcome these difficulties and that our workforce can rapidly expand, which will in turn, enable the growth of the logistics industry as a whole.

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