A short-term visa for Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers? Will this government initiative really work?

Currently, the UK is experiencing a massive fuel shortage. People waiting in long queues to get their share of fuel has become a common sight. Sadly, many petrol pumps have no fuel to give.

As soon as a new petrol tanker arrives at a station, the news spreads like wildfire on social media and people flock to the station. As a result, pumps become empty within hours of being replenished.

Apparently, the problem was triggered when a rumour spread that the UK has only two-thirds of its normal fuel supply and that the levels are declining even further. This caused panic buying. Officials, however, claim that there is no shortage of fuel but there is a shortage of drivers who can deliver fuel to the pumps.

Frankly, the UK has been facing a labour problem for a long time. It has only become worse after Brexit.

The government has already begun working to deal with the situation. First of all, a thank-you letter has been sent to the HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) Drivers who are still continuing to work and help the haulage industry in the UK. The letter also requested drivers who have left to return and help the UK cope with this crisis, of course with some added pay benefits.

Additionally, the government has put the following measures in place.

  1. A free, short-term training course is being offered to become HGV drivers
  2. 150 army drivers are being hired to offer some relief
  3. A 3-month visa is introduced for drivers who want to return and work in the UK

The new visa scheme hopes to pool in 5000 HGV drivers to come and work for 3 months in the UK. These drivers can offer short-term relief to the industry and then return home for Christmas. Recruitments begin this October and the visa will be valid up to 24th December 2021. Since it’s a short-term visa, anyone who wants to apply must do so immediately.

However, there are some serious issues that arise.

  • First of all, many drivers have full-time jobs in the EU. Would they leave their jobs and return to the UK for a 3-month role?
  • Last year for Christmas, due to the entire COVID situation, drivers couldn’t return home on time for the holiday. They got stuck at the airport for so long without proper food and washing facilities. After experiencing a nightmare like that, how many drivers would want to come to the UK and hope that they can return home for Christmas this year?
  • Applicants may also fear the bureaucracy prevalent in the UK and the fact that recruitment companies may take a portion of the drivers’ salary.
  • As mentioned earlier, the government intends to hire 150 army drivers to fill the gap temporarily. But how much will 150 drivers be able to help when the shortage is of 5000 drivers?
  • Coming to the short-tern training course to become HGV drivers, can we really expect many to apply for training and become a driver in such a short period of time?
  • As of now, a Heavy Goods Vehicle Driver is not under the list of eligible jobs for skilled worker visa nor is it under the shortage occupation list. So, if HGV drivers are offered special benefits, wouldn’t other occupations which are not in the list also demand the same benefits?

Looking at all the critical issues of this crisis, it may be wise for the government to consider offering something long-term for HGV drivers. The drivers may be looking for something more permanent rather than a 3-month work. Since the UK has already lost a lot of EU workers, the time to act to now!

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