Derby recruitment firm in drive to address ‘unprecedented’ forklift truck driver shortage

A Derby recruitment firm has launched a push to address what it calls an “unprecedented shortage” of forklift drivers caused by Covid-19 and Brexit. Sky Recruitment Solutions, based in the Strand, has been a specialist provider of staff for industrial roles at all levels since 2014. But the firm’s managing director, David Torrington, believes 2020 has seen a record widening of the gap between the supply and demand of qualified forklift candidates.

And according to David, the situation has also been made worse by the dual impact of the coronavirus crisis and Brexit. He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way a lot of people interact with their jobs.

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“Employees are now understandably nervous about changing their career paths and employers are reluctant to let their best staff go. “While that’s making the labour market less dynamic, Brexit is also having a major impact because a high proportion of warehouse and manufacturing operatives here in the UK are European nationals.

“And the more limited these people are in terms of their access to the UK and its job markets, the more problematic the situation threatens to become.”

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According to the Freight Transport Association, more than a third of ‘British’ forklift drivers are non-UK EU nationals. But while the impact of these shortages is being felt most keenly in factories, warehouses, logistics companies and manufacturing facilities – David remains confident about a solution. He said: “We’re collaborating with our clients to offer training to standard warehouse workers to get their forklift truck driver licences and the outlay for that is certainly not exorbitant.

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“Forklift training could take just three to six days and costs from GBP200 to GBP700 – and once qualified, a forklift operator can add to their basic wage with plenty of overtime and expect to earn in excess of GBP500 a week.

“If we had 40 qualified forklift drivers walk through our door today, we could get every one of them to work within seven days.

“When you also factor in the longer-term security that a marketable qualification like a forklift licence brings to your CV, that ought to be enough to get a lot of hardworking Derbyshire locals thinking.”

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