Post-Covid recruitment hindered by EU exit
Schreyer: ‘We need to attract more talent and then retain that talent’
Go-Ahead Group chief executive Christian Schreyer emphasised the effect Brexit had had on the group’s operations in the UK at last week’s UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Barcelona.
He said transport operators faced similar post-Covid challenges around the world and chief among them were staffing shortages. However, he said the UK’s challenges were more pronounced as a result of the decision to leave the European Union. He described this as the “very toxic combination of Brexit and Covid”.
“Many of our drivers used to come from central or eastern European countries and many of them returned home during the pandemic,” Schreyer said. “Then they were not allowed back into the UK anymore.”
The Go-Ahead chief executive explained that bus drivers were not on the list of skilled workers that qualified for a work permit post-Brexit and this needed to change.
It’s a huge challenge. In London, we are missing something like 9% of our drivers, so we are missing 600 people for our London bus business
“Engineers, they are on the list, so we can bring people from all over Europe [to fill those vacancies], but not the bus drivers,” Schreyer noted. “It’s a huge challenge. In London, we are missing something like 9% of our drivers, so we are missing 600 people for our London bus business.”
Schreyer also criticised the move by many in the industry to offer lucrative sign-on bonuses to recruits who already have a bus driving licence. He was particularly critical of the use of the practice by driver agencies who then hire drivers back to the very companies they were recruited from.
“We need to attract more talent and then retain that talent,” he added. “So let’s get rid of sign-on bonuses. That’s really what I would like you to see the industry do.”
This story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.
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