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Truck drivers from India keen to grab UK's short-term visas: Report

The HGV driver shortage has triggered a fuel crisis in the UK

EU-UK-brexit-truck-border-check-reuters A lorry driver shows documentation to officials for both customs clearance and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test results as he arrives at the Eurotunnel on route to France on the first day after the end of the Brexit transition period, Folkestone, Britain, January 1, 2021 | Reuters

Truck drivers from India are among the leading category of workers driving up interest in new temporary work visas introduced by the UK to address supply shortages in the country, according to research by a major UK job search website.

Analysis by Indeed UK found that demand for the UK's short-term visa offer for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, effective from this month until February next year, was being driven up by drivers far afield rather than nearby European Union (EU) countries, as was expected.

However, truck drivers from outside the EU are unlikely to have the required qualifications, which would mean further delays to addressing any immediate crisis.

Non-EU drivers will be less likely to have the Driver CPC qualification that's required to drive HGVs in the UK and EU, Jack Kennedy, Indeed UK Economist, told City AM'.

Getting one could eat into the time in which overseas drivers can drive in the UK, and this roadblock could blunt the effectiveness of the visa scheme, he said.

The HGV driver shortage, which has triggered a fuel crisis forcing even UK Army officers to step in to drive HGVs, sparked a 307 per cent spike in interest in UK-based jobs from overseas drivers. Analysis by Indeed UK shows that this spike is coming primarily from India, the UAE, South Africa, Poland and Nigeria.

With the UK not the only European country to be suffering from sluggish supply, EU workers are said to be less attracted to the UK market as they can work visa-free in any EU member-country.

Since Brexit, the UK's visa rules apply equally to all EU and non-EU workers. Therefore, with European haulage firms hiking wages to lure drivers, EU workers are less likely to consider Britain's temporary visas an attractive offer.

Petrol shortages and the prospect of empty supermarket shelves have spurred the government into action, and all eyes have turned to our European neighbours to see if the offer of 5,000 temporary visas will tempt EU drivers to return to the UK for work, said Kennedy.

However, we might be looking in the wrong direction, as the fact that so many other European countries are wrestling with their own driver shortages means EU-based drivers may opt to stay close to home rather than move to post-Brexit Britain, he said.

On Monday, British Army personnel began helping to deliver fuel to petrol station forecourts to help relieve supply shortages across the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently attending his ruling Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, has insisted the issue is not at the level of a crisis or related to the impact of Brexit.

What you're seeing are stresses and strains that are caused by the global economy coming back to life and supply will match demand," he told the BBC.

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