Whether the UK eventually departs the EU remains to be seen, but news that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has proposed a £30,000 minimum salary threshold in a future immigration system will worry the industry.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport has challenged MAC’s plans. They the minimum salary threshold would cause more difficulty than ever for some operators when recruiting drivers, it says.
That’s a fair comment. It’s no secret that many companies rely heavily on staff from other EU member states.
Another line of thought – one more commonly aired by coach operators – is that drivers are not hugely difficult to find. The often-impossible bit is sourcing those who they are happy to entrust their pride and joy to.
An operator tells routeone that he could put six more coaches on the road today if he had people to drive them. One would-be recruit recently presented. He was smartly dressed and arrived early. The problem? He didn’t even have a car licence.
That operator accepts that staff across the industry are underpaid. In a commercial environment there is no easy answer to that. Increase drivers’ wages a lot and some of your contracts will become lossmakers. Your private hire rates will be uncompetitive.
What other options are there, particularly if the tap of incoming labour from EU member states is turned off? It’s difficult to say.
However, successes in attracting people into roles not limited to driving gives encouragement that there is a domestic resource to be tapped into.
Bringing new staff onboard has scarcely been more difficult. It requires more effort than ever. But those individuals are out there. Young or old, they just take time to find.