Tagged: experience

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Hauliers warn of ‘acute shortage of drivers’

A CO Armagh firm has warned that an “acute shortage” of HGV lorry drivers in Northern Ireland will ultimately lead to consumers having to pay more in the shops for their goods.

Morgan McLernon says it is finding it “virtually impossible” to recruit the dozens of staff it needs.

Like many other haulier businesses across the north, it fears it may soon have to turn business away due to a lack of drivers.

And despite having organised its own driver academy to provide training to candidates wishing to enter the transport industry, the company claims politicians need to do more to help remove barriers which are preventing the industry from growing.

Stephen McAneney from Morgan McLernon, a road haulage company based at Silverwood in Lurgan specialising in chilled and frozen distribution across Ireland, Britain and Europe, says he needs to add 40 drivers to the firm’s current 250-strong crew – but can’t fill the posts, despite drivers potentially clearing £500 a week.

“The Road Haulage Association says it is short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year, and the industry isn’t attracting younger people into HGV driving,” he said.

This is due to the high costs of gaining an licence (up to £5,000 a driver) and companies, especially small firms, being reluctant to take drivers with less than 12 months’ commercial driving experience because of the additional insurance costs that apply to these and younger drivers.

“This isn’t a problem unique to us. Virtually every haulier has a similar story to tell,” he added.

“In simple terms, if hauliers haven’t got the drivers to move produce, there will be less on the supermarket shelves, and in turn that will lead to prices going up.

He added: “What we need right now is some sort of apprenticeship scheme which gives a new generation of young drivers, those aged from 17 to 25, the opportunity to forge a career in this sector,” McAneney added.

“But not having a working Stormont isn’t helping, and our trade is suffering as a result.”

The industry is also failing to attract or retain foreign nationals as drivers, given the complexities and fears around Brexit and the relative weakness of the UK’s economy.

Indeed one Northern Ireland firm told the Irish News: “Last year we employed 12 Hungarian drivers. They all went home for Christmas, but only four came back. They weighed up all their financial options and felt it was better to stay put.”

Hauliers are also being separately penalised through having to pay an Apprentice Levy, even though is virtually impossible for them to take on apprentices (in the case of Morgan McLernon,it is understood to be in the region of £30,000 a year).

The Road Haulage Association has already presented its case to the transport committee at the House of Commons, and insisted it is important the industry gets beyond the point where it appeals mainly to those with a passion for driving.

In response, the committee said: “We believe there are steps the industry can take to encourage young people, regardless of their background and gender, to work as drivers.

“Haulage is competing with other sectors for young people leaving schools and colleges. Many of the options young people will consider require some additional training, but it is unusual for a sector to require new entrants to fund the acquisition of licences and pay for the additional training.

“The industry needs to work with insurers to find ways of reducing the cost of insuring young drivers, but the government has a role to play in facilitating this work.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly told the Irish News: “The severe lack of HGV drivers is posing a serious logistical threat to the industry. There are businesses in my constituency which have vacancies for scores of drivers. That level of deficit is incredible and it is influenced in no small way by the threat of Brexit on the industry.

“In the absence of functioning institutions, it’s difficult to advance solutions but I’ve written to the Southern Regional College and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to explore if Neighbourhood Renewal or another funding stream could be used to provide new apprenticeships which can be established to support young people in need of employment while plugging the skills gap in this area.

“It’s incredible frustrating that we have no government to make the urgent interventions required.”

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Hauliers warn of ‘acute shortage of drivers’

A CO Armagh firm has warned that an “acute shortage” of HGV lorry drivers in Northern Ireland will ultimately lead to consumers having to pay more in the shops for their goods.

Morgan McLernon says it is finding it “virtually impossible” to recruit the dozens of staff it needs.

Like many other haulier businesses across the north, it fears it may soon have to turn business away due to a lack of drivers.

And despite having organised its own driver academy to provide training to candidates wishing to enter the transport industry, the company claims politicians need to do more to help remove barriers which are preventing the industry from growing.

Stephen McAneney from Morgan McLernon, a road haulage company based at Silverwood in Lurgan specialising in chilled and frozen distribution across Ireland, Britain and Europe, says he needs to add 40 drivers to the firm’s current 250-strong crew – but can’t fill the posts, despite drivers potentially clearing £500 a week.

“The Road Haulage Association says it is short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce shedding another 40,000 by next year, and the industry isn’t attracting younger people into HGV driving,” he said.

This is due to the high costs of gaining an licence (up to £5,000 a driver) and companies, especially small firms, being reluctant to take drivers with less than 12 months’ commercial driving experience because of the additional insurance costs that apply to these and younger drivers.

“This isn’t a problem unique to us. Virtually every haulier has a similar story to tell,” he added.

“In simple terms, if hauliers haven’t got the drivers to move produce, there will be less on the supermarket shelves, and in turn that will lead to prices going up.

He added: “What we need right now is some sort of apprenticeship scheme which gives a new generation of young drivers, those aged from 17 to 25, the opportunity to forge a career in this sector,” McAneney added.

“But not having a working Stormont isn’t helping, and our trade is suffering as a result.”

The industry is also failing to attract or retain foreign nationals as drivers, given the complexities and fears around Brexit and the relative weakness of the UK’s economy.

Indeed one Northern Ireland firm told the Irish News: “Last year we employed 12 Hungarian drivers. They all went home for Christmas, but only four came back. They weighed up all their financial options and felt it was better to stay put.”

Hauliers are also being separately penalised through having to pay an Apprentice Levy, even though is virtually impossible for them to take on apprentices (in the case of Morgan McLernon,it is understood to be in the region of £30,000 a year).

The Road Haulage Association has already presented its case to the transport committee at the House of Commons, and insisted it is important the industry gets beyond the point where it appeals mainly to those with a passion for driving.

In response, the committee said: “We believe there are steps the industry can take to encourage young people, regardless of their background and gender, to work as drivers.

“Haulage is competing with other sectors for young people leaving schools and colleges. Many of the options young people will consider require some additional training, but it is unusual for a sector to require new entrants to fund the acquisition of licences and pay for the additional training.

“The industry needs to work with insurers to find ways of reducing the cost of insuring young drivers, but the government has a role to play in facilitating this work.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly told the Irish News: “The severe lack of HGV drivers is posing a serious logistical threat to the industry. There are businesses in my constituency which have vacancies for scores of drivers. That level of deficit is incredible and it is influenced in no small way by the threat of Brexit on the industry.

“In the absence of functioning institutions, it’s difficult to advance solutions but I’ve written to the Southern Regional College and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to explore if Neighbourhood Renewal or another funding stream could be used to provide new apprenticeships which can be established to support young people in need of employment while plugging the skills gap in this area.

“It’s incredible frustrating that we have no government to make the urgent interventions required.”

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Back to basics

DURHAM, Ont. – Rising from the ashes of the once mighty, now defunct, Fergus Truck Show, was the first ever Great Canadian Truck Show hosted at the Full Throttle Speedway in Durham, Ont., July 21-23.

The event, organized by volunteers committed to keeping a truck show in the region, drew more than 60 trucks. One of those volunteers, Jennifer Hatch, told Trucknews.com that many friendships were formed among show volunteers and the truckers who enjoyed the Fergus Truck Show in years past. It was important to them to offer a simpler, more grassroots show, where truckers could continue to gather and share their passion for trucks and trucking.

For those who didn’t make it out to the Great Canadian Truck Show, but are familiar with Fergus, expect a laid-back, scaled-down show experience, Hatch advised.

“We had a way more relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “Sometimes you have to take it back to grassroots, and I think Full Throttle Speedway, in a lot of people’s minds, is grassroots. It’s a place to come and enjoy family and friends, no pressure. I think that’s what this show brought. There wasn’t any stress, people just had fun, nobody got out of hand – it was an absolutely great, respectful time.”

The Fergus Truck Show, once the largest in Ontario, if not Canada, became a victim of its own success. The show regularly drew more than 400 trucks, but once it got about as big as a truck show in that area could get, well meaning organizers looked to expand other aspects of the event. They brought in bigger-name bands, which in turn attracted a larger audience, including some rowdies and their shenanigans.

Many of those folks had no interest in the trucks that were on display, and the truckers had little interest in the bands. The truckers – who formed the nucleus the show was built around – turned cranky when entry fees were steadily increased to pay for those big bands. Many felt The Fergus Truck Show had become less of a truck show, and more of a music festival. Greed wasn’t driving ambitions to grow the show; monies raised were plowed into worthwhile local causes. The intentions of the organizers were laudable – the more people they could draw, the more money they could raise for local initiatives. But for truck show purists, the Fergus Truck Show had lost its way.

Organizers announced in February the Fergus Truck Show was to cease operations.

“The Board of Directors would like to sincerely thank all of our volunteers, attendees and drivers that have come through the gates for the past 30-plus years. It is with the utmost of gratitude and appreciation that we thank you for your support over these past years,” organizers posted on the show’s Facebook page in February.

But a handful of volunteers didn’t want to see the area go without a truck show, and decided to host a new one that would mark a return to the Fergus show’s grassroots origin. A site was selected about 70 kilometers to the northwest of Fergus, at the Full Throttle Speedway in Durham, Ont. The speedway provides expansive grounds for truck and RV parking and some side entertainment in the form of motorsports, including a truck pull. The pairing went over well, according to Hatch.

“We had a great turnout for the truck pulls on Friday night,” Hatch said, noting even some of the highway tractors participated. More than 2,000 spectators attended the races and truck show on the evening of Saturday, July 22, despite some unpleasant weather.

The committee will meet in the coming days to decide on the future of the Great Canadian Truck Show, but Hatch was optimistic it will return to the same venue next year.

“The grounds worked well for us,” she said. “There were lots of hiccups, obviously. When it’s your first time at the grounds, you’re not sure how it’s going to work, and Mother Nature made some wet areas we weren’t expecting. We will have a meeting of the minds and see if it worked for everybody. I do believe it will be here next year, but we have to talk to everybody and make sure they’re on-board.”

Several truck owners received awards as part of the show’n’shine, but there was one award organizers were unable give out. The President’s Award was to go to a participant who went above and beyond to promote the event. There were too many candidates to choose from, Hatch said.

“We had truckers who came in here on Tuesday to help set up for the show, volunteering, no questions asked,” she said. “We had people who worked everywhere, getting it out on social media, telling people about the show. We couldn’t choose somebody, so this year it went to all the people who made the show happen.”

Show’n’shine awards went to: Earl MacDonald & Sons Transport, Best 2017 Working Truck; Schlueters, Best Vintage Working Tractor; Earl Hardy Transport, Best Restored Tractor; Steve Constantine, Best Paint Tractor; Boyd’s, Best Mural; Premier Bulk Systems, Best Commercial Logo; and Gervais Towing, Best Heavy Recovery.

Hatch said Royal Engraving sponsored the plaques, and she thanked everyone who chipped in to make the inaugural event a success. For more on the event, visit its Facebook page here[1].

References

  1. ^ here (www.facebook.com)