THE SUPPLY CHAIN to the UK’s major manufacturers is teetering on the edge of collapse this summer Enginuity warns, as news comes of construction site labour shortages.
A ‘perfect storm’ brought about by a Brexit exodus of European drivers, Covid testing delays at UK and European ports, self-isolation, a hiatus in training and examining HGV driver, and summer holidays are blamed for an acute shortage of drivers.
There are currently approaching 100,000 vacancies for HGV 1&2 and delivery drivers – whilst there are more than 4,000 unfilled positions for transport planners and analysts.
Site and Supply Shortages
The acute shortage of lorry drivers, which is already causing some food shortages, is beginning to disrupt the manufacturing process, says engineering specialist, Enginuity. With employees being ‘pinged’ to self-isolate and the summer holidays looming, experts fear the situation is going to get a whole lot worse.
Ann Watson, CEO of Enginuity Group has called for urgent talks with government to avoid a catastrophic breakdown in the production line.
“This constitutes a very dangerous situation which threatens to derail the Covid recovery.
“We are on the verge of a crisis which threatens the viability of manufacturing across the country – we need some urgent intervention from Government before the House rises for summer recess.
“Manufacturing is of strategic importance to the UK economy and never more so as firms seek to assert themselves globally post-Brexit. Supply chains have already seen major disruption due to parts and materials shortages caused by Covid.”
The Government today announced some measures designed to help reduce the shortage of drivers. The measures follow the Construction Leadership Council’s warning last month of the expected effect on construction of the shortage of haulage drivers.
Last week, Office for National Statistics figures showed that average hours worked in construction between March and May this year was 35.1 hours – a recovery to pre-pandemic levels in the January to March 2020 average.
But the recovery is threatened as news comes of hundreds of construction workers being told to isolate due to coming into contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19.
Construction Workers Isolating
The increasing numbers of construction workers having to isolate due to being pinged by the COVID app is an added worry, Neil Sherreard, deputy chairman of Beard, said.
“The industry could be in for a rough month or so until the guidance changes in mid-August.
“At Beard we’ve seen an increase in COVID-related absences in the last week alone, from our own people and supply chain.
The increase in people being advised to self-isolate comes as the Government withdraws free testing for workplaces.
Neil Sherreard continues: “The issue is there is something of a perfect storm in many respects. Not only are people having to isolate, but at the same time many are looking to take well-earned holidays. Added to this is a lack of materials and the fact that European labour is returning home and not coming back. All this increases the challenge to deliver for our customers.
“Of course, we’re monitoring the situation closely and currently we’re able to cover absent staff, however I do expect COVID cases to increase.
“So, it’s important now to plan ahead and be nimble. Work with your supply chains and be proactive about anticipating absences in the short-term and cover any gaps as best as possible, and ride this latest storm over the next month to six weeks.”