The concept of a "war for talent" is mainly associated with the competition between companies when recruiting engineers and other technical profiles. In the UK, an actual "war for drivers" has erupted, with more and more retailers offering all kinds of financial incentives to attract new truck drivers.
The latest in the list is Marks & Spencer: new drivers at logistics partner Gist have the prospect of a bonus totalling 5,000 pounds (almost 6,000 euros). As soon as they sign, they instantly receive 2,000 pounds, and the longer drivers stay on, the more bonuses they get, reports Retail Gazette.
Previously, Aldi also announced that it would be raising its drivers' wages both to keep existing drivers on board and to attract new ones. Tesco, meanwhile, will hand out a cheque worth 1,000 pounds to every new driver who gets hired between now and the end of September.
There are several reasons for this fierce competition for drivers. For starters, there is the so-called "pingdemic". The phenomenon refers to the pinging sound made by the British Covid-19 app whenever it signals a high-risk contact to a user. It means that a significant proportion of the British workforce has to go into a mandatory ten-day quarantine. This causes constant staffing problems in a wide variety of businesses.
The coronavirus crisis has also led to a pressing shortage of qualified drivers in another way. Industry federation Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates that there is a shortage of some 60,000 truck drivers after as many as 30,000 driving tests were cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
The final, more structural cause is Brexit. It has led to many foreign lorry drivers leaving the UK. As this category of workers is not on the British government's notorious "skilled labour" list, they can only return after going through lengthy immigration formalities.
The British government is trying to alleviate the situation by relaxing quarantine obligations and has promised several improvements to make the day-to-day life of truck drivers more pleasant. These include more rest and parking areas and higher standards for truck stops. But the RHA is very critical of those commitments, saying they are not sufficient to address the most pressing needs.