Expats with old driver's licenses asked to drive trucks in the UK

Several Germans living in the UK with older driving licenses have received mail from the British government due to the acute shortage of truck drivers, according to a report. Thousands of Germans in the country who obtained their driver's licenses before 1999 have been written to because they are allowed to drive smaller trucks, a local Independent newspaper reported.

The letter from the Department for Transport, obtained by the newspaper, urges those written to consider "returning" to the trucking industry - even though many of those addressed have never been behind the wheel of a truck. "There are great opportunities for truck drivers in the logistics industry and working conditions have improved throughout the sector," the letter says. "Their skills and experience have never been more needed."

The U.K. Department for Transport said the letter was sent to nearly a million people with truck driving licenses. It had been impossible to filter the list of recipients more precisely by occupation for data protection reasons, it said.

Drivers with German licenses issued before 1999 are allowed to drive small trucks with a maximum weight of 7500 kilograms under certain conditions.

"It's nice to know there are still job prospects here for us post-Brexit," a 41-year-old German who lives in London with his wife told the Independent. "If we had gone to Germany, I don't think we would have ever been recruited as truck drivers by headhunters." For now, however, he said he wants to keep his job at an investment bank, and his wife has also never driven a car bigger than a Volvo and will probably turn down the "exciting opportunity."

The acute driver shortage is currently having drastic consequences on the island: Long lines are forming in front of the gas stations that are still open, as fuel trucks are unable to deliver to many in time. Supermarket shelves have also been left partially empty. During the pandemic, many drivers from Eastern Europe have left the country. Strict entry rules after Brexit ensure that many do not return. With short-term visas for several thousand drivers until Christmas, the government is now hoping to remedy the situation.

The British government is deploying the army from Monday to bridge the shortages in gasoline supplies. 200 soldiers - 100 of them drivers - would complete a corresponding training course over the weekend and could then start making deliveries on Monday, the government announced on Friday. The U.K. has an estimated shortage of 100,000 truck drivers.

The supply shortages are also causing consumer goods to become significantly more expensive ahead of the Christmas shopping season. Farmers warned Friday that a mass cull of pigs was imminent because there was also a shortage of butchers and slaughterhouse staff.

Last Sunday, the government in London had also held out the prospect of temporary visas for 5500 employees in the poultry industry. However, many refused because the time frame was too short for them.


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