Retail firms offer bonuses in attempt to resolve lorry driver shortage

Retail businesses are offering bonus payments as sign-on and retention incentives to new and existing lorry drivers as the sector grapples with a shortage of staff in key logistics roles.

Dixon Carphone – which owns the Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse brands – has announced a scheme that will see new recruits as 7.5t drivers paid a sign-on bonus of £1,500, with the same amount paid to existing drivers as a retention bonus. The company will also offer to pay for training and tests to quality for a class C1 licence for new candidates wishing to become drivers.

Lindsay Haselhurst, chief supply chain officer at Dixons Carphone, said: “Our drivers are a vital part of our operation – our ambassadors on the road who perform the mammoth task of replenishing, delivering and installing hundreds of thousands of products every week, serving our stores as well as our customers in their homes.

“There is no better time to be joining Dixons Carphone, as we continue to invest in colleagues’ skills and rewards. The pandemic has reinforced the important role vital technology plays in everyone’s lives today, so we’re looking for new drivers to join our team to help us continue to deliver on our vision of helping everyone enjoy amazing technology.”

Competition for drivers has also prompted other retailers, including Asda and Tesco to offer a £1,000 signing-on fee for HGV drivers.

With the wider industry facing a serious shortage of skilled workers, business group Logistics UK has published a free guide for employers from across the sector on funding and support for accessing logistics skills. The group estimates that there is currently a shortage of 90,000 HGV drivers, including around 25,000 from the EU who have left the country since Brexit. There is also a backlog of around 45,000 lorry driving tests caused by the suspension of such testing for much of last year during the pandemic lockdown.

Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, said: “There is currently an acute issue with the recruitment and retention of roles across our industry, not least HGV drivers, but many employers are confused about how to access vital funding in order to recruit and train new workers. This new guide, produced with the active involvement of the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions, gives clear and concise information about the schemes available to employers and where and how to apply for funding, including for apprenticeships and traineeships, to attract and train new employees.”

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