That’s the message from a survey by Skills for Logistics, which reveals one van driver in six is aged 55 or over.
With almost one-fifth of drivers leaving the industry each year due to retirement or ill health and fewer than one tenth of vacancies being filled by staff new to the driving industry, current recruitment trends could be concealing future problems for the industry if an aging workforce is not being replaced by younger, new people.
Some 80% of van driver vacancies advertised last year were filled by experienced drivers, with more than half of all vacancies being filled within a month.
This high level of mobility within the industry suggests that drivers are quick to move from one employer to the next and could be causing complacency among employers, with only 8% claiming they had experienced difficulty in recruiting drivers.
While the number of employers trying to recruit staff dropped from 40% in 2005 to 30% in 2006, the number of vacancies in the industry has seen a rapid increase in 2007 – 7,606 vacancies for van drivers were advertised in June 2006.
By June 2007 this figure had increased 95% to 14,853.
Ian Hetherington, Skills for Logistics chief executive, believes diversity and training could hold the key to attracting more staff and retaining those already in the industry.
He said: “We know that companies which offer continually professional development schemes have a lower rate of staff turnover.
"Pay and working conditions are similar across the industry so employers need to offer something extra to set them apart from the crowd.
“This could help attract more women to the industry. Just because companies are finding it easy to recruit staff at the minute they can’t afford to think that will always be the case.”