Dr Christian Killek, a professor of trade logistics at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, has admitted a shortage of HGV drivers is becoming a “problem” in Germany. The market analyst at the Federal Logistics Association insisted the issue has not reached the levels of Britain, where an estimated 100,000 vacancies have been reported, but admits it “affects the entire economy”.
He said: “The shortage of drivers is also becoming a problem in Germany.
“Experts have been predicting this for years.”
Dr Christian added: “It won’t be quite as dramatic as in Great Britain.
“It won’t be felt all of a sudden, but it’s a creeping problem that needs to be taken seriously. It doesn’t just affect the food trade, it affects the entire economy.”
The stark warning comes as the Road Haulage Association estimated there is a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK.
The woes in the labour market have been triggered by a number of factors, such as workers returning to Europe during the pandemic.
The profession has for many years also failed to attract younger recruits, while other employees in the industry have made a career change.
Dr Christian has acknowledged rising wages in eastern Europe has contributed to the shortages in Germany and the UK.
He also cited poor working conditions experienced by drivers and the high costs of gaining a HGV licence.
The German haulage expert also claimed the shortage of drivers was a “consequence of Brexit”.
The UK finally left the EU in January following the end of the Brexit transition period.
New trading rules had initially increased checks and resulted in delays at UK ports.
Dr Christian also claimed 14,000 truck drivers left Britain and returned to their home countries after Brexit.
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He said: “When Brexit became apparent, there were supply problems in Great Britain. Back then, truck queues at border crossings were the main cause.
“Due to ambiguities in customs clearance, the food did not arrive in the country on time. This has now basically been resolved.
“The problem now is that within the UK there is a lack of truck drivers to distribute the products from the central warehouses to the food retail outlets. This is also a consequence of Brexit.”
The Government has repeatedly played down the issues with the supply chains and has encouraged firms to recruit domestic workers.
The Department for Transport has confirmed plans to increase the number of HGV tests to 50,000 per year, with applicants taking one test instead of two in order to drive both a rigid and articulated lorry.
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stressed the shortage of drivers was a global issues and cited 120,000 vacancies in Poland.
He told MP: “First, we will eliminate the need for some car drivers who want to tow a trailer to take an additional test… allowing about 30,000 more HGV tests every single year.
“Second, tests will also be made more efficient by removing the reversing exercise element and vehicles with trailers. The uncoupling and recoupling exercise, having that test separately carried out by a third party so, it’s still being done.
“Third, we’re making it quicker to get a licence to drive an articulated vehicle without first having to get a licence for a smaller vehicle and this will make around 20,000 more HGV tests available every year.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg