HGV drivers and poultry workers to get temporary UK visas in bid to limit disruption in run-up to Christmas
Over 10,000 HGV drivers and poultry workers are to receive temporary UK visas in a bid to limit disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry.
A further 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be made available for the same short period, to avoid any potential further pressures on the food industry during this exceptional period.
Recruitment for additional short-term HGV drivers and poultry workers will begin in October and these visas will be valid until 24 December 2021.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are preparing to process the required visa applications, once made, in a timely manner.
However, the UK government has said it wants “employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour to build a high-wage, high-skill economy.”
“Visas will not be the long term solution, and reform within the industry is vital.”
“That’s why the government continues to support the industry in solving this issue in the long term through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.”
Other measures being brought forward include up to 4,000 people soon being able to take advantage of training courses to become HGV drivers.
The UK government Department for Education is investing up to £10 million to create new skills bootcamps to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.
The free, short, intensive courses will train drivers to be road-ready and gain a category C or category C&E licence, helping to tackle the current HGV driver shortage.
An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the UK government’s adult education budget.
Fuel tanker drivers need additional safety qualifications, the UK government says will work with industry to ensure drivers can access as quickly as possible.
To help make sure new drivers can be road ready as quickly as possible, the Department for Transport (DfT) have also agreed to work with Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) to ensure that tests will be available for participants who have completed training courses as soon as possible.
Separately, the UK government is also bringing in legislation to allow delegated driving examiners at the three emergency services and the MOD to be able to conduct driving tests for one another.
“This will give the emergency services greater flexibility and help increase the number of tests DVSA examiners can provide HGV examiners.”
DVLA is also send nearly 1 million letters to thank HGV drivers for their vital role supporting the economy, and to encourage those who have left the industry to return.
The letter, which will arrive on doormats over the coming days, sets out that the steps the road haulage sector is taking to improve the industry, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours.
UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.
We are acting now but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.
After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.
The Food and Drink Federation’s Chief Executive, Ian Wright CBE, said:
We welcome the government’s pragmatic decision to temporarily add HGV drivers and poultry workers to the existing visa scheme.
This is something UK food and drink manufacturers have asked for over the last few months – including in industry’s Grant Thornton report – to alleviate some of the pressure labour shortages have placed on the food supply chain.
This is a start but we need the government to continue to collaborate with industry and seek additional long term solutions.
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