Commercial Vehicle Show to focus on industry skills shortages

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:1st June 2021

Blurry image of vehicles in a convention showroom

The Commercial Vehicle Show will return to the Birmingham NEC in April this year, and the organisers of the event will have a very specific focus: addressing the severe skills shortages facing UK transport and logistics companies.

According to research published at the end of 2019, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of these firms are likely to face serious skills gaps in the coming year.

Education and diversity

Currently, the industry is facing a shortfall of nearly 60,000 workers, but this is expected to rise. The research highlighted issues including a lack of knowledge about transport and logistics, as well as outdated perceptions of the industry.

The Commercial Vehicle Show said it will be taking “active steps” to address these two key problems at this year’s event.

There will be appearances by driver training specialists, as well as providers showcasing the various ways qualifications can be gained to enter the industry.

Show director Murray Ellis said “championing education and diversity” will be vital to challenging misconceptions around the commercial vehicle sector.

“We are pleased to be offering visitors an extensive range of training and skills providers, allowing them to discover the wide range of roles that are available within the industry.”

Mr Ellis also commented on the importance of taking a “grass-roots approach” to opening up the sector to new skills, something the Commercial Vehicle Show will seek to achieve by introducing three live theatre spaces this year.

“This will allow us to facilitate both talks and panel discussions, informing and educating in a live show environment,” he added.

Attracting women to the industry

One of the key issues for the freight and transport sectors, as far as diversity and skills are concerned, is the lack of female representation.

Recent studies have shown that women make up only a fifth (20 per cent) of the total workforce in these industries, and just three per cent of Britain’s HGV drivers are female.

In response to this problem, many companies attending the Commercial Vehicle Show 2020 will be focusing on ways to attract more women to the event.

One such exhibitor is Hireco, which recently launched its updated truck stop at London Gateway with a particular emphasis on safety and cleanliness.

Paul Jeffery, the company’s truck park manager, pointed out that its facility at London Gateway now has features including a CCTV system with intelligent cameras that are capable of reacting to live events.

“We hope that by providing truck drivers with such high standard facilities, this should in turn attract more drivers – both male and female – to the industry and fix the ever-increasing shortage,” he added.

Coming to the Birmingham NEC from April 28th to 30th, the Commercial Vehicle Show will feature highlights including the Cool Zone, an area dedicated to companies that specialise in moving goods at controlled temperatures.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “It’s clear the transport and logistics sector needs to find ways to fill skills gaps and boost gender diversity, so it’s encouraging to see events like the Commercial Vehicle Show placing an emphasis on these issues.”