Marc Fels

Marc Fels – HGV Recruitment Centre – HGV Driver Jobs – Interview BBC News 26th September 2021

Transcript

Marc Fels – HGV Recruitment Centre – HGV Driver Jobs – Interview BBC News 26th September 2021

Interviewer: Well, let’s speak now to Marc Fels, the Director of the HGV Recruitment Centre. Thanks for joining us this afternoon Marc.

Marc Fels: Good afternoon.

Interviewer: Now first of all the Government said 5,000 temporary visas are going to be issued for now. Labour says that many many more are needed. What do you think?

Marc Fels: Well, I would have to agree, you know if we look at the numbers and the shortages are in excess I would say now a 1,000 whilst every single driver coming into our market is a good thing, it’s I think the chamber of commerce summed it up quite nicely as well they said it’s a thimble of water to try and put out a fire and I think that’s quite astute.

Interviewer: So what do you think should have done to prevent us from being in this situation?

Marc Fels: Well, I was discussing this this morning on your breakfast show. The early writing’s on the wall for this were as early as last August (2020) when we started to see a lack of and we could see that very few new drivers were going to come through and we had challenges ahead with IR35 but things started to get quite serious from April (2021) so I work with other large recruiters and some very large transport and haulier companies and you know things started to go wrong for want of a better term then and they’ve stayed pretty consistent since then.

So I’m quite surprised that this announcement is only really coming to our attention now, when actually this has been quite a big problem for nearly six months.

Interviewer: I accept you probably think this is too little too late, this Government action, but how far do you feel it mitigates the problem?

Marc Fels: Well, when we consider that there’s a 100,000 plus shortage and you know we’re bringing in five percent of that number to try and help it it really doesn’t mitigate it very far unfortunately.

Interviewer: And do you feel that we will you know be successful in finding these 5,000 drivers because you know part of the issue is that not enough people are drawn to the the job so how easy will it be to fill these places?

Marc Fels: Well, I think we probably can find people but we also have to understand that it’s not going to happen tomorrow morning you know. From the minute we engage with someone, for that person to then come over and then start work we could be looking at ten days, two weeks from today and that’s already one sixth of the time that these short term visas have been released for.

So you know I think we can probably find the people but I don’t think it’s going to happen tomorrow and suddenly we’re only looking at 10 weeks of them being able to be here before they have to go home again. Unless of course the Government at that point u-turn and either let those 5,000 stay or dare I say at that point realise that that’s not solving anything and we need to let some more in.

Interviewer: So what do you think the situation is likely to be in the coming weeks time? I just want to get your sense of where we’re likely to be as a result of perhaps the lateness of action on this?

Marc Fels: Well, sadly I can’t see very much changing because as discussed these 5,000 are only being remarked for fuel and for food and as you said a minute ago we’re already demanding that or the supermarket world is already combining 15,000 drivers just for themselves. So these 5,000 will come in, they’ll be distributed between sort of ADR which is fuel driving and food driving but what does that do to the rest of the market. I’ve got umpteen customers, clients in construction that are screaming out for drivers because construction is also busy so it’s a small win but it doesn’t really really help in the long term.

And unfortunately when these short term visas run out we’re still going to be faced with the same issues we were moving into next year and the year and the year after. Something has to change longer term because we have an aging population, we do have young people who want to join the industry but the barrier to entry is cost. It’s several thousand pounds to join the license and as I’ve said now a couple of times, HGV driving, whilst it is skilled work, is not considered a vocation. If it were, it would access student funding and you know we as a country (are) already funding students to the tune of 17 billion pounds a year which is a combined debt at the moment of 101 billion rising to 500 billion by the middle of this century.

So you know when we consider the costs to actually say right we’re gonna help young people we’re gonna fund them, we could we could train 30,000 drivers for the cost of 100 million pounds. Now I know that’s still a lot of money but that’s less than 0.5 percent of the money we lend to students in just one year. So I feel it’s unfair and I would definitely welcome the opportunity to speak to Mr Zahari and Mr Shaps to say look education and transport have to work together you know.

Interviewer: Marc I just want to and cut in there actually if I may just I want to put to you what Grant Shaps said earlier today, the Transport Secretary, saying that this is a long-standing issue and actually the industry itself needs to take some responsibility to tackling the issue and not just wait for Government to do things.

Marc Fels: Some yes but it’s not industry what you know logistics haulier businesses are run on relatively tight margins and they can’t afford especially with inflating wages to suddenly start funding four or five thousand pound courses. Now we the government could offer the younger community and I get called every day from people wanting to join funding and loans and and I know very quickly we could start to bring more people in you know there are elements of this job that are very very hard and very very strenuous and we have a situation where there’s an enormous shortage, I see personally lots and lots of people who want to join but they can’t afford it.

So there has to be a conversation because otherwise yes we’ll put plasters over the wound now we’ve written to lorry drivers begging them to come back, we’ve increased wages we’re bringing in some some foreign drivers. But these are just temporary measures you know if we don’t start a different conversation about how we’re going to bring new blood into this industry we’re going to be talking about the same issue next year the year after the year after that sadly.

Interviewer: Marc Fels, thank you so much for your time.

Marc Fels: My pleasure.

ENDS

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