UK's trucker shortage shows labour challenge

Wesley Van Tonder swapped delivering food on a motorbike for learning to drive a 32-tonne truck.

"I used to do UberEATS, Deliveroo mainly on the motorbike across London during the pandemic, because it was the only job I could get. Now everything is starting to open back up so there's more people on the road, and on the bike it's a bit dangerous. I'd rather drive a truck."

Britain could do with a few more people signing up like Wesley.

It's battling a shortage of 90,000 lorry drivers, which has led to gaps on supermarket shelves.

Restaurant chains have had to take certain items off the menu, with milkshakes gone from McDonald's.

The UK is not alone in seeing a shortage.

In the U.S. trucking employers' organisations have called for more visas for foreign drivers.

And German logistics bodies estimate there is a shortage of up to 60,000 drivers there.

Disruption to supply chains has proved a major headache for businesses globally as they recover from the health crisis.

And it's creating inflation pressures which central banks do not expect to ebb quickly.

In Britain new post-Brexit immigration rules have also cost the industry 20,000 EU drivers.

Then the number to pass their tests fell by almost two thirds last year due to the pandemic.

Laurence Bolton, Managing Director of the National Driving Centre, says the health crisis has led to changes in the sector:

"We've even had airline pilots, some have been made redundant, some with that sort of threat hanging over them. But, yeah, so they're possibly going from 747s to class one lorries."

Britain's government has rejected industry calls to temporarily ease visa restrictions for EU lorry drivers.

And has instead told the sector to improve pay and conditions.

Salaries have already soared this year, and some desperate trucking firms are offering a joining bonus of £5,000 - or almost $7,000.

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