Recruitment Trends in the Fleet Industry (2024)

BY Liam Caulfield   |  

The UK’s fleet industry is no longer cruising along familiar highways. Buckle up because a revolution is fast approaching, fuelled by the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), the unstoppable march of automation, and the ever-shifting demands of a dynamic consumer landscape. These seismic changes are ripping up the traditional playbook, leaving a trail of transformed skill sets and igniting a blaze of new recruitment trends in 2024.

This whitepaper dives deep into this dynamic landscape, charting the key routes fleet operators must take to navigate the new recruitment terrain. We’ll dissect the disruptive forces reshaping the industry, from the buzzing hive of EV innovation to the sleek highways of automation, all while keeping a keen eye on the evolving expectations of customers.

Driver Shortage in the UK Fleet Industry

The UK fleet industry is grappling with a persistent and significant driver shortage, exacerbated by the rising need for new skills driven by technological advancements. Let’s delve into this trend, incorporating the latest data:

The Shortage:

  • Estimates suggest a shortfall of 76,000 drivers, impacting nearly half (42%) of fleet-based businesses.
  • Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver numbers dropped by 30,300 in the first quarter of 2023 alone.
  • The average age of HGV drivers is 48, with 47% over 50, and pandemic disruptions to testing further hampered new entrants.

Factors Fuelling the Shortage:

  • Low wages and unattractive working conditions: Long hours, tight delivery schedules, and limited rest facilities make the profession challenging.
  • Brexit: Loss of EU drivers and complex post-Brexit visa regulations contribute to the gap.
  • An ageing workforce and limited new entrants: Fewer young people are attracted to the profession due to its perceived image and demanding nature.

Demand for New Skills:

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption: Growing EV fleets require drivers trained in charging infrastructure, battery maintenance, and safe operation.
  • Data analysis: Logistics rely on data-driven insights for route optimisation, fuel efficiency, and predictive maintenance. Drivers need basic data interpretation skills.
  • Telematics: Technology like onboard computers and tracking systems require basic digital literacy and data input skills from drivers.

Latest Data:

  • As of 2023, driver retention and recruitment remain the top priorities for 90% of UK fleet managers.
  • 45% of drivers consider quitting due to increased workload and pressure.
  • Despite challenges, there’s been a 74% increase in truck driving tests compared to pre-pandemic levels, indicating efforts to bridge the gap.

Impact and Outlook:

The driver shortage disrupts supply chains, raises transportation costs, and threatens economic growth. To address this, the industry needs:

  • Improved working conditions and wages to attract and retain drivers.
  • Government support: Streamlining post-Brexit visa regulations and investing in driver training, particularly for EVs and relevant technologies.
  • Industry initiatives: Improving fleet safety, utilising technology for task optimisation, and promoting the profession’s positive aspects.

The EV Revolution - Reshaping UK Fleet Recruitment

The UK’s ambitious EV targets – including the 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales – are electrifying the fleet industry, sparking a talent race for EV-specific skills and qualifications. Let’s delve into this trend using data and stats:

The Rising Demand:

  • Surging EV sales: The UK EV market share exploded from 1.6% in 2019 to 25.6% in 2023, creating a massive need for EV-trained personnel.
  • Fleet electrification: Companies are switching to EVs for sustainability and cost benefits, further fuelling the demand for qualified drivers and technicians.
  • New job roles: The EV revolution is birthing new professions like EV charging infrastructure specialists, data analysts for optimising EV charging, and safety inspectors for battery systems.

Data and Stats:

  • A 2023 study by KPMG predicts 83,000 new EV-related jobs in the UK by 2030, representing a 71% increase over current levels.
  • By 2025, estimates suggest a need for 30,000 additional technicians with EV maintenance expertise.
  • The UK government is investing £1.5 billion in EV training, including grants for businesses and individuals seeking EV qualifications.

Skills in Demand:

  • Vehicle maintenance: Understanding electric motors, battery systems, and charging infrastructure is crucial for servicing and repairing EVs.
  • Data analysis: Interpreting data from onboard computers and charging networks is vital for optimising EV routes, charging schedules, and fleet performance.
  • Digital literacy: Familiarity with telematics systems and mobile applications is essential for EV drivers and technicians.
  • Customer service: EV adoption requires educating customers about charging, range, and vehicle operations, demanding strong communication skills.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Bridging the skills gap: The rapid pace of EV adoption necessitates upskilling the existing workforce and attracting new talent with relevant qualifications.
  • Standardising training: Developing a national framework for EV qualifications ensures consistency and quality across the industry.
  • Building awareness: Highlighting the career opportunities in the EV sector can attract a wider pool of talent.

Automation on the rise

The fleet industry is witnessing a tidal wave of automation, propelled by advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and the looming horizon of autonomous vehicles (AVs). While this might raise concerns about job displacement, it simultaneously presents a fertile ground for new opportunities. Let’s explore this trend with data and insights:

The Rise of Automation:

  • ADAS Market Growth: The global ADAS market is projected to reach $214.3 billion by 2025, showcasing the rapid adoption of features like lane departure warning, collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control.
  • AV Trials and Investments: Companies like Waymo and Cruise are actively testing AVs in cities worldwide, with billions invested in research and development.

Impact on Jobs:

  • Potential Job Losses: McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to 8% of truck drivers could be displaced in the long term due to automation.
  • New Job Creation: Automation will require engineers, software developers, data analysts, and cybersecurity experts to design, build, maintain, and secure these intelligent systems.
  • Shifting Skillsets: Existing drivers and technicians will need to upskill and adapt to operate alongside ADAS and potentially transition to managing AV fleets.

Data and Stats:

  • A PwC study suggests that automation could create 2 million new jobs in the UK by 2030, primarily in data analysis, technology, and engineering.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates that 50% of all existing jobs are at risk of automation by 2050, highlighting the need for workforce adaptation.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Preparing the Workforce: Fleet operators must invest in training programs to equip their workforce with the skills required for the automated future.
  • Ethical Considerations: Concerns surrounding safety, job displacement, and data privacy need to be addressed through responsible development and implementation of automation.
  • Embracing Innovation: Early adopters of ADAS and AV technologies can gain a competitive edge in efficiency, safety, and cost savings.


The Evolving Skills Landscape of Fleet Management

The winds of change are blowing strong in the realm of fleet management, reshaping the skillset required for success. While the bedrock of logistics and operational mastery remains crucial, an exciting new chapter is unfolding, demanding expertise in data analysis, technology, and sustainability. Let’s delve into this dynamic trend, armed with insightful data and stats:

The Shift in Skillsets:

  • Data as the New Fuel: Fleet management is becoming data-driven, with insights gleaned from onboard computers, telematics systems, and fuel consumption data informing critical decisions.
  • Tech Savvy Takes the Wheel: Familiarity with fleet management software, telematics platforms, and mobile applications is no longer optional; it’s essential for optimising routes, monitoring driver behaviour, and streamlining operations.
  • Sustainability Steers the Course: Embracing environmentally friendly practices is paramount, driving the need for knowledge of electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and efficient logistics strategies.

Data and Stats:

  • A 2023 survey by Accenture found that 83% of fleet managers agree that data analytics is crucial for driving efficiency and cost savings.
  • The global telematics market is projected to reach $72.7 billion by 2027, signifying the growing reliance on data-driven fleet management.
  • A study by Deloitte reveals that 74% of fleet managers are planning to invest in electric vehicles in the next three years, highlighting the need for EV expertise.

Emerging Skillsets:

  • Data Analysts: Interpreting complex datasets to optimise fleet performance, predict maintenance needs, and identify cost-saving opportunities.
  • Technology Integrators: Implementing and managing fleet management software, telematics systems, and other technological solutions.
  • Sustainability Champions: Developing and implementing strategies for reducing emissions, adopting alternative fuels, and optimising fuel efficiency.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Bridging the Skills Gap: Upskilling the existing workforce and attracting talent with relevant data, tech, and sustainability expertise is crucial.
  • Embracing Continuous Learning: The industry is evolving rapidly, necessitating a commitment to lifelong learning and adaptation.
  • Leveraging Technology: Investing in the right tools and software can provide invaluable data insights and automate tasks, freeing up managers to focus on strategic decision-making


Diversifying the Fleet: New Strategies for Talent Acquisition

The talent landscape in the fleet industry is undergoing a transformative shift. Recognising the limitations of traditional recruitment methods, forward-thinking companies are embracing innovative strategies to attract and retain a diverse and qualified workforce. Let’s explore three key trends shaping talent acquisition in the sector:

Reaching Untapped Talent Pools:

  • Younger Generations: Engaging Gen Z and millennials with flexible schedules, technology integration, and personal and professional growth opportunities. A 2023 Randstad study revealed that 46% of Gen Z prioritise flexibility and remote work options when choosing a job.
  • Women in Fleet: Actively recruiting and nurturing female talent through targeted outreach programs, mentoring initiatives, and inclusive workplace cultures. The American Trucking Association reports that women currently represent only 6.8% of truck drivers in the US, showcasing a vast untapped potential.
  • Skilled Immigrants: Streamline visa processes and attract skilled foreign workers, particularly in areas like data analysis and electric vehicle maintenance, where there might be domestic skill shortages.

Competitive Packages:

  • Beyond Salary: Recognising the importance of comprehensive packages that go beyond base salary and include attractive benefits, such as healthcare, tuition reimbursement, and childcare assistance. A 2023 survey found that 80% of employees consider benefits equally important as salary when evaluating a job offer.
  • Career Development: Offering clear career paths, access to training programs, and opportunities for upskilling to retain valuable talent and attract ambitious individuals seeking growth. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2030, companies will need to train up to 1 billion workers globally to adapt to new skill requirements.
  • Work-Life Balance: Prioritising flexibility in work schedules, remote work options, and family-friendly policies to attract and retain talent in a competitive market. A 2023 FlexJobs report shows that 74% of job seekers prioritise flexible work arrangements.

Driver Well-being:

  • Positive Work Environment: Promoting a culture of respect, safety, and open communication to combat driver fatigue, stress, and isolation. A 2022 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that positive work environment attributes improve truck driver retention by 28%.
  • Health and Wellness Initiatives: Providing access to healthcare resources, fitness programs, and mental health support to ensure drivers’ physical and mental well-being. A 2023 American Psychological Association survey reports that 67% of employees say their employer offers programs or initiatives to help manage stress.


The Evolving Regulatory Landscape in Fleet Management

The fleet industry is navigating a changing skillset landscape and facing a dynamic regulatory environment. Two key trends are shaping the regulatory landscape with significant implications for compliance, cost, and overall operations:

Compliance Training:

  • Clean Air Zones and Regulations: Cities worldwide are implementing stricter emission standards and introducing low-emission zones (LEZ) or clean air zones (CAZ). Drivers need updated training and certifications to comply with these regulations and avoid penalties. In the UK alone, the number of CAZs is expected to rise from 11 in 2023 to 50 by 2025.
  • Safety and Driving Standards: Ongoing revisions to safety regulations, fatigue management rules, and driving license requirements necessitate continuous training for drivers to stay compliant and ensure accident-free operations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the US regularly updates safety regulations, impacting training needs for truck drivers.
  • Technology-Specific Certifications: As the industry embraces automated vehicles and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), specific training and certifications will be required for drivers and technicians to operate and maintain these technologies safely and effectively.

Data and Stats:

  • A 2023 survey by Fleet Europe found that 45% of fleet managers consider complying with new regulations their top challenge, highlighting the increasing complexity of the regulatory landscape.
  • The global training and development market for the transportation and logistics industry is projected to reach $15.8 billion by 2027, reflecting the growing demand for compliance training solutions.
  • A European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) study suggests that 1.2 million new jobs will be created in the EU by 2030 in the field of automated and connected vehicles, necessitating specific training programs.


Cost Adjustments:

  • Recruiting and Training Budgets: Implementing new compliance training requirements can strain recruiting and training budgets, requiring companies to re-evaluate resource allocation and potentially revise compensation packages to attract and retain drivers willing to undergo additional training.
  • Vehicle Upgrading and Retrofitting: Adapting to stringent clean air zone regulations might involve upgrading fleets with newer, low-emission vehicles or retrofitting existing vehicles with emission-reducing technologies, leading to significant capital investments. The UK government estimates that transitioning to electric vehicles alone could cost UK businesses in the logistics sector between £40 billion and £50 billion by 2030.
  • Operational Efficiency Optimisation: Optimising routes, fuel consumption, and maintenance schedules can help offset some of the increased costs associated with compliance, requiring ongoing data analysis and technology adoption.

How can MBA support the businesses in this industry?

Highly skilled, dedicated team “Living our purpose, we have passion for our work.” 

MBA proudly boasts a team of highly skilled automotive recruiters who have achieved remarkable success in the last 12 months. With over 100 placements for vehicle technicians, warranty administrators, service controllers, and workshop managers, our track record is a testament to our unwavering commitment to the “whatever it takes” ethos.

In navigating the challenges of the current market, MBA leverages a robust team of offshore resource specialists. These specialists are strategically aligned both vertically and geographically, proactively building talent pools in our client’s markets. Whether for active roles or potential opportunities on the horizon, our offshore team’s dedication ensures that our on-shore teams can focus their efforts on candidate engagement—a crucial aspect, particularly in the dynamic automotive industry where securing candidate commitment is often half the battle.

At MBA, we recognise the importance of going above and beyond, and our innovative approach to talent acquisition sets us apart. We don’t just find candidates; we cultivate relationships, ensuring that our clients have the best possible team to meet their needs.

Low cost compared to agencies: “Always curious, we drive towards solutions.”

MBA has a unique perspective on pricing, relying not on the industry norm of fee percentages but costing out the service proposition and applying a gross profit margin to the cost of delivery.

We saved one of our dedicated exclusive clients just over £250,000 in recruitment fees last year. We have the ability to price sensitively because MBA operates a 270-degree recruitment model in this space, whereby your consultant’s time is only spent on servicing a client’s need, not in developing new clients, and therefore, our productivity is greater, and our consultant pays out less. Essentially, we pass on these productivity savings to our clients to ensure a win-win.

High touch service for both candidates & and hiring managers: “We have exceptionally high standards – excellence is our standard.”

MBA has introduced a candidate concierge service, focussed on supporting future employees from the point of entry into the candidate journey to their start date. This service takes many forms, including but not limited to Employer Value Proposition positioning, location-specific insight and relocation support services, notice delivery counselling, and cultural onboarding.

In a paradigm shift for the recruitment industry, de-commoditising your greatest asset, your people. This service that we offer has assisted us in achieving an 80% offer-to-start ratio in 2023 across our automotive division, which includes vehicle technicians.

Aligns with the talent acquisition point - Support hiring managers by providing location/cost data, interview scheduling and offer negotiation. “you can trust us with full disclosure & transparency.”

MBA are keenly aware that talent acquisition and attraction fall outside the typical responsibilities of your hiring manager communities. Our role is to serve as the conscience of talent in this partnership, demonstrated through various value-added contributions. One such contribution is the delivery of insights derived from big data, along with competitor analysis, market trends, and challenges.

While we excel at process management, ensuring each stage is meticulously engineered, our true strength lies in the art of addressing a candidate’s natural curiosity and concerns throughout the recruitment process. This skill significantly enhances candidate engagement and stickability.

We navigate the process seamlessly and impart these softer skills to hiring managers, empowering them to replicate our success and make the most productive use of their time.

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