Thousands of Germans in the UK have been asked by the government to help with the HGV drivers shortages, even if they have never driven a lorry before.
The letter, sent by the Department for Transport, is asking recipients to “consider returning” to the lorry driving industry.
It reads: “Your valuable skills and experience have never been more needed than they are now.”
Germans who obtained their driving licences before 1999 are entitled under their licence to drive small to medium-sized trucks of up to 7.5 tonnes.
This means almost all German citizens living in the UK have been sent the letter begging for help, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of them will have never driven a lorry before.
‘We would have never been headhunted for this in Germany’
A German man and his wife both received the letter today.
The man told The Independent: “We were quite surprised.
“I’m sure pay and conditions for HGV drivers have improved, but ultimately I have decided to carry on in my role at an investment bank. My wife has never driven anything larger than a Volvo, so she is also intending to decline the exciting opportunity.
“It is nice to know there are specialist jobs available here for us though after Brexit. We would never have been headhunted to drive a lorry if we’d gone back to Germany.”
The letters have also been sent to other drivers, such as ambulance drivers, paramedics and motorhome owners.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said the letter was sent to around one million HGV driving licence holders, and that it would have been “impossible” to only send it to professional drivers because of data protection rules.
But a winery production manager said the government could have targeted people better by looking at people’s records and seeing who has worked in the transport sector or at least has the CPC test required for commercial HGV driving.
Peter Brissenden, from Kent, said he received the letter yesterday and he is “absolutely not” planning on taking up the offer.
Brissenden took his HGV driving test three years ago just to be able to drive a motorhome, and thinks being invited to work as a lorry driver shows a “scattergun approach” by a “desperate government”.
‘Scattergun approach by desperate government’
He told The London Economic: “The letter I’ve been sent shows a complete scattergun approach by a government who are desperate to try and sort out a problem that’s completely of their own creation.
“Some of it is due to Covid, but obviously the vast majority, the reason why we’ve not got any foreign drivers in the UK, is because a lot of them went home post-Brexit.
He added: “Even if you are pro-Brexit, there’s an argument to say that skilled drivers are skilled, driving is a skilled occupation, should have been allowed to stay in the country.
“I don’t know what working conditions are like in the EU, but it can’t be worse than here.”