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What is causing the UK’s worker shortage in the food & beverage Industry?

- "Is Brexit causing food and medicine supply problems in the UK? - BBC News"

With some businesses closing due to an inability to find even a single driver, some having to reduce production capacity massively, and others having to throw away produce to transportation issues, worker shortages are having a widespread impact throughout the UK’s food and beverage supply network.

Although the large supermarkets have stated that consumers will still have access to most goods on the shelves, food prices are expected to rise, and there remains some insecurity about the extent to which driver shortages will impact supply in the coming months.

Why are we seeing worker shortages throughout sectors?

Experts have attributed these shortages to a few reasons; Brexit and tighter immigration controls have had repercussions for members of the EU being able to legally work in the UK.

Transport logistics analyst and expert, Nick Bailey told the BBC, that recruitment issues due to both COVID and Brexit have made it far more difficult to recruit skilled workers from the EU, with Covid leading to a large number of workers migrating home, resulting in the huge shortage we experience today. (1)

The UK has, for decades, relied heavily on the EU for HGV, lorry and truck drivers. With a huge swing of workers moving out of the UK, and restrictions preventing EU drivers from working in the UK, we have seen the number of drivers in the UK drop from 40,000 at the start of the pandemic, to 25,000 currently. (1)

Additionally, there has been Industry discussions over the lack of incentives leading people into these jobs - People simply aren’t training in these fields, drivers are choosing other professions and the field has a large number of ageing workers.

The average age of HGV drivers in the UK is 55, and with a lack of incentive programmes encouraging young workers into the field, the implications of Brexit and the pandemic are being compounded by more long-term causes.


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