Recent disruptions in the availability of goods have highlighted the supply chain’s great strength and vulnerability: people. While the need to attract, retain and develop talent in our industry is universal, the shortage of truck drivers has become a notable pinch point.
There is no silver bullet for the driver shortage, but there are solutions. Each logistics and transport company must tailor a ‘people solution’ that works best for its business culture. In XPO’s case, our programme is called ‘You grow, we grow’, encompassing driver apprenticeships, competitive benefits, and upskilling. The programme reinforces the idea that employees and employers achieve success together.
XPO’s HGV driver apprenticeship program in England has attracted more than 2,000 applicants to date, which indicates a healthy number of people interested in exploring commercial driving careers.
Our approach involves an upfront investment in the trainees, including financial support whilst training. This enables our apprentices to complete the HGV coursework while acclimating to the operations. It also helps to ensure a pipeline of competent drivers committed to safe road freight operations.
In this atypical labour market, it’s more important than ever to compensate drivers at a level that reflects the value of their work. Employers who routinely monitor core pay rates against industry benchmarks nationally, regionally and locally are more likely to keep pace with the evolution of market rates. Our benchmarking methodology considers both the type of driving roles and the scope of operations for a comparable analysis.
In addition, transport companies must ensure that the total benefits package for drivers is attractive, the workplace culture is welcoming, and the equipment is modern and safe – all of these things factor into being an employer of choice. Examples of benefits available to our drivers in the UK and Ireland include share purchase schemes, high street discounts, a ‘cycle to work’ scheme, a workplace pension and reimbursement for third-party training of the employee’s choice.
Upskilling current employees
As companies build their recruitment programmes to support growth strategies, they can consider making a parallel investment in current employees through upskilling. This is a way to grow their scope of skills and increase their earning potential for drivers.
We invest in these employees to upskill their licences with our driver team. Currently, in the UK, we have drivers going from car to class 2, or class 2 to class 1. Upskilling is hugely attractive to many employees, and it can move the best and brightest individuals up through the ranks via internal promotion, which is a big part of our culture.
We also offer opportunities for fuel tanker drivers to cross-train as general freight drivers and vice versa and provide training on mechanical handling equipment and hazardous goods qualifications. Of course, not every driver will have aspirations beyond a straightforward driving career. Still, the training of all types – even refresher training – can increase job satisfaction—one of our business units completed over 20,000 driver training hours in just over a year.
So, while today’s driver shortage won’t be solved overnight, there are viable steps every transport company can take to mitigate the impact. Together, we can make our industry a magnet for service-conscious professionals who thrive in supply chain driving careers.