Almost all haulage companies will have experienced difficulties in recruiting personnel. |
If we’re being honest, many will also have shied away from recruiting younger and less experienced people.
Given staff shortages in many areas, why does this disconnect in approach arise?
It’s explicable, in part, by the costs associated with training and developing inexperienced employees.
If one takes a typical school-leaver or a young person changing career, in all probability they will arrive as a trainee on day 1 knowing little or nothing about the industry. Until such time as they get up-to-speed and are more or less fully productive, they are effectively a cost overhead for the organisation.
The traditional approach for haulage companies (as elsewhere) was to see the recruitment and training required as being an investment for the future. However, as margins became ever tighter during the years of economic stagnation, there simply wasn’t, in many cases, sufficient budget available to take on that load.
This trend was further compounded by the perennial and highly controversial subject of school leaver skills. Whatever view you hold as to why this is the case, the reality ‘at the coalface’ is that significant numbers of younger inexperienced applicants simply lacked the pre-requisite skills in English and basic Mathematics to make their training and development a viable proposition.
The lower the skills of an applicant and the more remedial development they require to bring them to a level where you can commence real training on the job, the higher your cost and risk profiles are.
The RHA and Government Intervene
This was an appalling Catch-22.
Haulage companies were being severely hit by staff shortages as the industry grew rapidly to support a growing economy. However, they lacked the money to take on new trainees, particularly those that required remedial education. That in turn fuelled yet a higher demand for experienced personnel – personnel that in some sectors just didn’t exist.
This problem was clearly articulated by the RHA over many years and eventually with good results.
From April 2017, the government will provide an increased package of financial aid for haulage companies taking on new trainees. Not only is money now finally on the table - the government has also made it available for helping some of the individuals concerned to improve their basic skills in Maths and English.
The funds are to be segmented across three main areas:
• LGV Drivers • Traffic Office Employees (Logistics and Supply Chain) • Warehouse Operatives.
These proposals have been widely accepted by the RHA and haulage companies.
Before seeing this as a panacea to staffing issues, though, it’s worth remembering that recruiting and training is only one part of the equation. The almost as important challenge is that associated with staff retention. While money isn’t the only factor that causes people to either stay or change job, it is a powerful influencer.
Some haulage companies may be a little concerned by this and if so, developing staff retention strategies will be as important as those training and development packages.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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