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Manufacturers warn of supply chain summer chaos

by Geny Caloisi

The supply chain to the UK’s leading manufacturers is teetering on the edge of collapse this summer and needs urgent Government intervention – Enginuity has warned.

A ‘perfect storm’ brought about by a Brexit exodus of European drivers, Covid testing delays at the UK and European ports, self-isolation, a hiatus in training and examining HGV drivers, and summer holidays are blamed for the acute shortage of drivers.

New research from Enginuity shows there are currently approaching 100,000 vacancies for HGV 1 and 2 and delivery drivers – whilst there are more than 4,000 unfilled positions for transport planners and analysts.

The acute shortage of lorry drivers, which is already causing some food shortages, is beginning to disrupt the manufacturing process across the country. With the summer holidays looming, experts fear the situation will get a whole lot worse.

Ann Watson, CEO of Enginuity Group – a not-for-profit organisation supporting skills development across engineering – has called for urgent talks with the Government to avoid a catastrophic breakdown in the production line.

Watson said, “This constitutes a hazardous situation which threatens to derail the Covid recovery.

“We are on the verge of a crisis which threatens the viability of manufacturing across the country – we need some urgent intervention from Government before the House rises for summer recess.

“Manufacturing is of strategic importance to the UK economy and never more so as firms seek to assert themselves globally post-Brexit. Supply chains have already seen significant disruption due to parts and materials shortages caused by Covid.

“We are seeking a collective solution that will protect the industry from the ripple effects of this crisis. Unless our supply chains function effectively, firms risk their own financial security, which will have major knock-on effects on employment and skills.

“In the short term, we are urging the government to reconsider adding foreign drivers to the Shortage Occupations list – a move which would provide some immediate easing and reduce the need to relax Drivers’ Hours rules.”

Most HGV vacancies exist in Southeast England, the East & West Midlands, the East of England and the Northwest – all major manufacturing hubs.