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Brexit trade deal logistics

Brexit & Logistics – What Impact Will A Lack of Attention Have On The Industry?

Since our exit from the EU just under 6 months ago, the focus has shifted away from Brexit over the past few months, with the outbreak of Coronavirus dramatically changing life as we know it.

Covid-19 has impacted the logistics industry in more ways than one, with one being a considerable delay in negotiation talks over reaching a trade deal. With most Government attention channelled into combating the spread of the virus, since Britain left the EU earlier this year, efforts of reaching an exit agreement have been somewhat delayed.

So, what impact will the pandemic have on the relationship between Brexit and the transport and logistics industry? 

The Current Brexit Situation

The current situation, as reported by the BBC, is that deals with 19 countries are expected to roll over until the end of the transition period (at the end of this year). These 19 countries account for around 8% of total UK trade. The other 92%, is still yet to be negotiated.

It has been argued that it is beneficial for both UK, and European countries, to come to a free trade agreement – as no side wants tariffs or quotas. However, it is now up to the governing bodies of each country to negotiate a fair deal with the UK.

Before the outbreak of Coronavirus, both Government and media attention was very much focused on Brexit. We have but a short period to decide on exit agreements, and it can be presumed that this year’s efforts would have been primarily focused on that. Since the country has been dealing with Covid-19, however, attention has shifted onto dealing with this national health crisis and Brexit has moved lower on the list of priorities.

Why Do We Need To Reach A Trade Deal?

1st June saw the latest round of Brexit negotiations underway. It was during this time that Sarah Laouadi, European Policy Manager at FTA urged the UK to progress:

“It is of paramount importance that progress is made now towards the creation of a trade agreement that’s acceptable to both parties.

The UK has outlined its proposed free trade agreement, which the EU has had time to consider. On behalf of those responsible for manufacturing and moving goods on both sides of the border, we are urging both sides to approach next week’s round of discussions in an open and welcoming manner, to ensure that progress can be made on reaching a consensus that benefits both sides. 

With so little time left before both sides are due to take stock of the negotiations and assess whether a deal can be finalised within the Brexit deadlines, it is now imperative that progress is made at the talks. The EU and UK have a highly interdependent supply chain, which affects so many businesses on both side of the Channel, and our members are keen that this week’s negotiations ensure that the work that is done by so many businesses to trade effectively can continue without interruption.”

It can be said from this that it is important to not only the logistics sector, but other industries too, that some sort of trade deal is agreed to protect the UK/EU supply chain.

Faced with a Brexit scenario where no deals are ironed out, possible threats to logistics could include:

  • Reduced trade
  • Stricter border control & tariffs
  • Changes to haulier regulations
  • Immigration control

This outcome could have a knock-on effect on haulier operations, but also if there is stricter immigration control, the infamous logistics skills gap may begin to widen even more. We can help to bridge this gap by changing perceptions and encouraging young talent into the sector, as well as showcasing what a career in logistics has to offer.

There are uncertainties for sure, and whether a deal is reached or not, we don’t doubt that the logistics industry will continue to be a fundamental service that sees the smooth running of day to day life. Even with the country gripped with an international health crisis, our logistics workers have still been putting themselves on the front line to keep shops full, transport medical goods and more. There will always be a need for logistics.

What Impact May A Lack Of Attention Have?

With efforts primarily focused on containing Coronavirus, there is every chance that it may take longer to come to an agreement with the EU; that’s if a deal is even negotiated at all.

In fact, EU Diplomats have even branded it “impossible” to reach a UK-EU trade deal with tariffs in just 6 months; something that was originally suggested to be plausible.

The focus on Brexit is, of course, being used for a cause, well worthy of Government time, but speaking for the Transport & Logistics industry, we would also urge the UK to endeavour to reach a solution that protects our sector.

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Road Emissions: Practicalities vs Ideologies

Following the well-documented UN climate action summit in New York last month, climate change and tackling environmental issues have never been heralded such high a profile. One of the issues Governments throughout the globe are looking to work on is reducing road emissions.

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HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

 

Could you imagine life without next day delivery? Logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy. According to the FTA, over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.

 

Logistics operators and HGV drivers are the heroes that keep our shops full, even whilst the industry faces a driver shortage and skills gap.  With Brexit looming, this is expected to worsen as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK.

 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage; which poses the question: how much longer can we keep the hero status? With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry, it is now so important to change young people’s perceptions of a career in logistics. Stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. In fact, 47% of all drivers are over 50 years of age.

 

Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme sponsored by the FTA, promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  They engage with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is – also addressing any misconceptions about the sector.  Many kids have negative perceptions of the sector and this can have an adverse effect on attracting young people to logistics. However, we know that if the industry worked together, we could have more success highlighting the opportunities this sector has to offer.

 

The FTA has suggested the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce.  At Drivers Direct, we fully support and are actively encouraging more young people into the industry – we provide training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for other nationwide companies.

 

In schools there can be a cultured expectation and pressure on pupils to attend university -with a heavy focus on the importance of a degree.  However, there is not enough appreciation for the vocational subjects and professional driving jobs that have a hand in the success of the UK’s supply chain.  We feel the Government needs to use its voice and platform to raise awareness of the logistics industry.

 

It is vital now more than ever to have clarity on Brexit, to help EU HGV drivers who are facing uncertainty with their job positions in the UK.  If we want to continue to be the heroes that keep our shops full, we need to get young people interested in the industry whilst they are still at school and show them the career paths available to them aside from university.  We need to see a change in the statistics, so that we are no longer a part of an ageing workforce.

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Drivers Direct Logistics

Professional Driving Careers: Changing Young People’s Perceptions

 

It’s no secret that the logistics industry has become increasingly concerned over the issue of a drivers shortage in the UK.  With an ageing workforce, a dependence on EU workers and a lack of new entrants, it’s created a cause for concern – with logistics the beating heart of the country, it’s incredibly important to change young people’s perceptions of working as a professional driver.  Changing attitudes towards a career in logistics will fill the skills gap and alleviate the pressures on the sector and current workers.

 

The Freight Transport Association(FTA) is in its third year of sponsorship of Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme that promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  It engages with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is all about – whilst also clearing up any misconceptions about the sector.

 

It’s a great step in the right direction for leaders in the industry to use their connections to trigger change.  In 2016 and 2017, the FTA exhibited at the Skills Show in Birmingham, an event which is visited by over 80,000 students, teachers and parents.  Through their work with organisations like Think Logistics, the FTA has been able to connect with young people and circulate materials that paint a picture of the industry – using case studies and bespoke career brochures.  With poor sector image being one of the reasons for bypassing a logistics career, it’s really important to highlight all of the opportunities across the sector, as well as within HGV driving.

 

A professional driving career is rewarding with the opportunity to plan your hours to suit your lifestyle – of course as long as delivery targets are met and the DVSA guidelines are met.  It’s guaranteed that you’ll meet new people every day, certainly a far cry from the misconception that it’s a lonely career.  HGV driving also gives you the opportunity to travel up and down the country and see new places and you’ll still have consistent contact with other employees at your base.

 

In its campaign for changing young people’s perceptions, the FTA are suggesting the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy to replace with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. There’s also been encouragement for the Government to allow businesses to have a freer rein over what skills they require from apprenticeships, which in turn will support internal training.  As part of its campaign, the FTA have also called for the Government to use its voice to raise awareness of the logistics industry for job prospects to further support the efforts of industry leaders.

 

At Drivers Direct, we fully support this move to encourage more young people into the industry.  We provide trainingand assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies nationwide.  If you know a young person considering a career in logistics, be sure to point them in the direction of Think Logistics’ website, which has a breakdown of the various positions within transport.  To our fellow friends in the industry, if we all continue to work together and raise the profile of a career in logistics, we can make a difference.

 

 

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Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

It’s no secret that there’s an ongoing issue with the relationship between two-wheeled and four-wheeled road users.  The likelihood of this partnership showing any developments remains to be seen.  However, the main topic that cyclists and vehicle owners (especially professional drivers) can agree on, is the issue of road safety.  If cyclists and HGV drivers could sing from the same hymn sheet, this would be a step closer to keeping a harmonious relationship.  In order for this to work, it’s important for cyclists and professional drivers to stay vigilant and aware of who they’re sharing the road with.  We’ve put together some of the most important safety measures for both cyclists and vehicle users.

 

For a cyclist, a high level of concentration is needed on the road, not only is it important to look out for your surroundings but you need to make sure that you’re being seen too.  When it comes to anticipating a driver’s turning intentions, never second guess in the event that an indicator isn’t used – a prime situation for a collision.  On the subject of indicating, know your own signalling for the road is vital – from the right or left turn to showing that you’re slowing down with one arm slightly extended to the side with the palm facing down and raising your hand up and down at wrist height.  To signal that you’re stopping, use one arm extended vertically upwards with the palm facing forward.  To help you further communicate on the road, it’s absolutely vital to have and use a bell.  Whether you’re a serious cyclist or you use your bike casually from time to time, make sure to maintain your bike and have it looked over by a professional at least once a year.

 

For professional drivers and other motorists, it’s imperative to check your blind spots before pulling away from a fixed position.  Waiting to check all mirrors and your blind spot could be the difference between noticing a cyclist and a potential accident.  For HGVs, the driver is of course sitting higher up than a standard vehicle and, with this in mind, the blind spots are even more important to take note of.  Much like the cyclists, signalling your direction is vital – and the earlier the better to make other people aware to reduce any risks.

 

In an ideal world, if all roads users could accept that everyone has equal right to use our roads, this would make a considerable difference to the relationship between professional drivers and cyclists.

 

Do you have any thoughts on what we’ve discussed in our blog or any ideas on bridging the gap between different types of road users?  Tweet us: @DriversDirect!

 

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Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

HGVs are covered a lot in the media but it’s no secret that the headlines are usually associated with bad news.  In these cases, it’s extremely unfortunate that a sweeping opinion is made of people that are simply doing their job.

Without the HGV drivers who work their hardest to deliver what we pick up in the supermarket or online shopping purchases with the added convenience of one-day delivery, our lives would be very different.  Even during the holiday season in December when the industry is up against a driver shortage, those drivers inside their cabs still work their hardest to deliver.

The media covers a multitude of HGV accidents and the blame is usually on the HGV driver (rightly or wrongly).  Perhaps with trucks being the bigger vehicle, this is where the blame originates, even in situations where the cause hasn’t been found yet.  In an article written by Transport Topics, just last year, it was reported that 80% of car-truck crashes are caused by car drivers however, truck drivers are still blamed.

In the media, it’s a familiar concept for stories to be written purely to stir up outcry.  There is plenty of discussion over how damaging this can be for a number of industries, as well as individuals.  With road accidents, often comes a “he said, she said” situation with eye witnesses describing differing accounts for what happened.  This is why more and more fleet managers are having vehicle cameras in trucks to use as evidence, if ever needed.  In-cab recordings are also becoming more and more popular, as they show clearly what a driver is doing at the time of an accident – making it easy to see they’re blameless and were fully concentrating.

Interestingly, in 2017 Volvo Trucks carried out a survey with the public to gauge attitudes towards lorries.  Out of the 2,095 adults quizzed, 92% said they recognised the role that HGVs play in the smooth-running of everyday life.  96% also said they understood that an HGV driver possesses significant skills and training.  Professionals drivers and their lorries are the beating heart of British trade, supporting the economy as they transport goods up and down the country.

From the perspective of other road users such as cyclists, there’s been a call for lorries in urban areas to be reduced and that goods should be transferred to smaller vehicles, when delivering in towns and city centres.  A valid idea but with this comes many more factors to take into account, for example the extra time and money needed to orchestrate it.

With the current driver shortage that the industry is facing, which is only to be exacerbated with Brexit pending, it’s important to realise just how much the country depends on HGVs.  Instead of reprimanding professional drivers as a whole, bad driving should be called out – consumer, mainstream media attention does not focus on the majority of excellent professional drivers on the road and the necessity to British trade and economy.  The mainstream media should balance out their reporting to make sure their readers can form a fair and balanced view of professional drivers.  If consumers only see multiple stories about bad driving, their feelings will be unfairly skewed.

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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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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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