Employers are offering mammoth bonuses for lorry drivers and nurses in efforts to urgently hire new workers after the pandemic and Brexit drove the sectors into critical staff shortages.
Tesco and Asda are offering a £1,000 bonus for new HGV drivers, while care company HC One is trying to lure new recruits with a £10,000 incentive for registered night nurses.
Research by job search experts Adzuna suggested this could partly be down to the so-called ‘pingdemic’, with high numbers of lorry drivers and shop workers encouraged to self isolate after being contacted by the NHS or its test and trace app. Iceland previously announced it would recruit 2,000 temporary staff to help supermarkets cope with the volume of workers told to stay home by Test and Trace.
There is a shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), leaving some supermarket shelves empty as the supply chain struggles for deliveries. The RHA called on the government to make commercial HGV drivers exempt from self-isolation if they are double vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19.
The industry is facing “critical short-term issues” compounded by low pay and the high number of EU citizen drivers forced to leave the UK after Brexit, according to Richard Burnett — the association’s chief executive — who warned customers could foot the bill for the higher costs of recruiting. Ministers’ pledges to make it easier for people to train and stay in the sector would do little to cut the shortage this year, he added.
“The problem is immediate, and we need to have access to drivers from overseas on short-term visas,” Burnett said. “The idea to simplify training and speed up testing is welcome, along with encouraging recruitment it will only improve things in a year or two’s time.”