Should Britain Create UK Working Visas For Foreign Lorry Drivers?

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With the threat of a Christmas shortage of turkeys, the UK government is under pressure to create a short-term working visa scheme for foreign lorry drivers, the BBC reports.

The Covid pandemic and Brexit has left transport firms desperate to recruit drivers and government departments have been in discussion options with the industry, including introducing special visas.

Ministers have rejected calls to introduce visas for drivers while urging firms to use local labour.

The industry wants drivers to be added to the official UK Shortage Occupations list, enabling them to qualify for a skilled worker visa.

Is UK immigration the magic bullet for industry?

But the government wants the industry to employ British drivers, which the industry said is impossible in the short term due to the training costs and time it takes to pass the rigorous HGV (heavy goods vehicle) driving test in the UK.

Training HGV drivers typically takes six to nine months and costs up to £7,000. Many British drivers claim that the low pay and poor working conditions are deterring people from entering the sector.

Businesses warn that the shortage of drivers is jeopardising deliveries to retailers and pushing up food prices for consumers.

The sector is also reeling from the impact of the pandemic, which has prevented thousands of new drivers from taking their HGV tests last year.

European drivers returned home when work dried up last year and have not been able to return because of immigration rules brought in after Brexit. Thousands of EU migrants failed to apply for UK settlement despite efforts by the Home Office to promote a low-cost easy route during the two-year run up to Brexit.

The Road Haulage Association estimates that there is currently a shortfall of about 60,000 hauliers and said that the situation for food supplies was "close to a crisis point".

There was a risk that some items would run out in supermarkets at certain times in a way similar to "rolling blackouts" for electricity, it said. Source: BBC.

As I said in my video post this week, I have not yet seen any evidence of major shortages on supermarket shelves. The problem is that warnings of a food shortage could become a self-fulfilling prophesy as shoppers start to hoard and panic buy.

Should the Home Office issue special UK working visas for drivers, they will almost certainly apply only to EU citizens.

Importing overseas workers to plug skill shortages has been used in the UK since the 1950’s ‘Windrush’ generation right up to hiring nurses from the Philippines and other countries today.

What’s your view? Should we train more British workers to do those jobs or is it the situation more complex?

See also:

Mastering Money The S.M.A.R.T Way Without Working Any Harder, Lesson #6

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