UK employers are struggling with the worst labour shortage since 1997. Almost every sector from retail and hospitality to manufacturing and construction is facing recruitment challenges. The taxi and private hire industry is no exception.

Taxi and private hire operators are experiencing a 40% shortfall in driver numbers, following 18 months of lockdowns. The pandemic led many drivers to either leave the industry permanently or move into the delivery sector where a more regular stream of work was available.

But now that the economy has reopened and ‘Freedom Day’ has arrived, passenger demand has returned close to pre-pandemic levels. This has left a significant gap between demand for taxis and supply of available drivers – which has led to a desperate need to recruit.


To address this shortfall, operators need to become more vocal as they highlight the numerous reasons why now is the time for former drivers to return and why a new generation of drivers should get behind the wheel.

This includes the ability to adopt flexible working hours, which is an attractive option for anyone looking to balance other responsibilities. It is appealing to anyone trying to fit work around their family life, for example. But equally it could be just what a new generation of drivers wants as they look to generate an income, while also pursuing other endeavours.

Operators now have access to technology that enables this way of working. Operators can draw on insights, taken from their booking and dispatch data, to inform drivers when and where they will be most likely needed. This is helping operators to fulfil demand whilst also helping their drivers to achieve the maximum income from the hours worked – thus, increasing their earning potential.


Drivers should also be aware that the amount of work available through local operators is increasing beyond trad- itional passenger work and this is providing them with an opportunity to boost their income. During the pandemic, we saw many operators seizing on a demand for home deliver- ies – many partnered with retailers and restaurants in their

local area to get food and goods out to customers. In Not- tingham, for example, DG Cars has created a delivery service which is providing drivers with more than 3,000 extra jobs a week.

As a result, it expanded its fleet and gave drivers the option to offer passenger work, delivery work or a mixture of both – so they could be kept busy during quieter periods.

Through the iGo network, local operators can now also automatically pick up work coming from travel manage- ment companies and aggregators, such as CMAC. This ability to fulfil corporate work is opening up new revenue streams. Once international travel restarts, drivers can look forward to an uplift in business travel as people begin meeting face-to-face again and attending industry events.


We should also be taking steps to reassure drivers that taxi work is safe. During the first few months of the pandemic, risk levels were higher for taxi drivers as there were fewer safety procedures in place to protect them from Covid.

However, most operators have now implemented measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission. Autocab played a key role in helping reassure drivers and passengers that taxi travel was safe by taking a leading role in the Safe Taxi and Private Hire Charter initiative last year. This set out hygiene standards for passengers and drivers, including steps that encourage drivers to wear PPE and make hand sanitisers available in all vehicles.

Over 200 UK operators backed this initiative – and since then, many others have adhered to similar standards to guarantee that drivers can get back out on the road safely.

All the above is helping the taxi industry bounce back after a challenging period – and drivers have a lot to gain. From multiple earning opportunities to flexible working patterns – there’s many positive reasons to become a taxi driver during the latter half of 2021.

Article supplied by autocab

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