British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that only 127 truck drivers from the EU have taken advantage of the recently introduced emergency program to facilitate the issuance of British work visas. Recall that at the end of September, the UK government launched a simplified visa issuance program for 5 thousand drivers of heavy vehicles and 5.5 thousand agricultural workers.
The problem of driver shortages in the UK has escalated sharply in recent weeks. The pandemic and lockdowns slowed down the training of new specialists and the verification of the qualifications of existing ones. In addition, after the country’s exit from the EU to the UK, it became more difficult for foreign drivers and agricultural workers to find work. Petrol stations were among the first to suffer, to which the refinery does not provide sufficient fuel, so motorists are forced to queue for hours at gas stations.
Describing the low visa demand situation, Mr. Johnson called it “an impressive illustration of how big the problem is.” He noted that working in road freight transport is “excellent work”, but added that the country has a problem of insufficient investment in the material base and salary funds. At the same time, Boris Johnson categorically rejected suggestions that the problem is related to “Brexit”. According to him, the only problem is that the economy is starting to recover from the coronavirus restrictions. “Imagine that the country was in a deep freeze, and then began to thaw abruptly – it is not surprising that there is a certain tension,” the Prime Minister said.
In turn, the British Road Freight Association believes that the weak demand for British work visas is due to flaws in the program itself. “The reality is that drivers are needed everywhere now. Therefore, visas for only three months are unlikely to be in high demand among foreign drivers, visas for 12 months are needed, ”the association noted.