Analysing the driver recruitment market: Noz Miah of Aim Recruit

Aim Recruit is a specialist recruitment company dedicated to finding, screening, and placing candidates for positions throughout the transport and logistics industry.

Analysing the driver recruitment market: Noz Miah of Aim Recruit

Covering the full spectrum of the sector, Aim supplies candidates for management roles and personnel for transportation offices and warehouses, as well as for driving and non-driving positions.

Claudia Weeks, Community Content Lead, met with Noz Miah, Managing Director, for a chat about the business and asked for his thoughts on driver recruitment in the fuel distribution sector.

The story of Aim Recruit

“Aim Recruit opened for business in February 2012,” Noz began. “Originally, it was founded with a focus on serving Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers and has expanded from there.

“Aim has undergone significant growth since its inception, necessitating a move to larger premises. We now have our headquarters in Canary Wharf, London and offices in Hertfordshire and Lyon, France. We also have plans underway to expand into the north and west of England in 2024.

“I believe what sets Aim apart is our diversified approach, operating seamlessly across multiple sectors – including retail, haulage, and fuel distribution.

“It has been important to me from the start that we position ourselves as partners rather than mere suppliers. Our focus is on cultivating enduring relationships, with longevity and innovation at the forefront of our mission. We take pride in being integral members of our clients’ ecosystems, providing unparalleled support to both clients and candidates.”

The current market

Claudia asked Noz for his thoughts on the current market for driver recruitment: “The market continues its recovery from the turbulence of the past 24-36 months, which has significantly reshaped the driver recruitment landscape and kept us vigilant! A combination of factors, including Brexit and IR35, has resulted in a notably sparse candidate pool. Consequently, wages and workforce demands have surged dramatically.

“Our expertise lies in assisting our clients in adopting a more flexible model; a specialisation our fuel team excels in. This approach allows clients to adjust their fixed cost base during typical lean periods and helps to optimise asset utilisation during peak demand. This contingency model not only mitigates the need for full-time wages year-round, but also reduces costs related to employee benefits and insurance.

“While signs of stabilisation are emerging, the pace varies across sectors. Currently, the fuel sector is experiencing buoyancy, especially with the onset of cold weather and a noticeable uptick in demand!”

The current driver profile is more accomplished than ever before

“The intersection of Brexit, IR35, and Covid has had a profound impact, significantly reducing the number of ADR drivers in the UK.” Noz continues.  “The cost-of-living escalation has only intensified this challenging scenario.

“The outcome is a noticeable increase in hourly rates, accompanied by a heightened expectation for improved working conditions. It’s worth arguing that the current driver profile is more accomplished than ever before. The surge in wages has led employers to demand a higher standard of performance and diligence, a crucial aspect given the frequent and substantial changes in legislation. This heightened level of skill and commitment is now of paramount importance.”

Challenges to the driver recruitment market

It’s clear that there are some challenges in driver recruitment, as Noz explains: “In addition to the factors already mentioned, there exists a substantial shortage in new entrants to the industry. Jobs in technology and services, offering comparable salary potential, are perceived as less demanding for younger individuals. Furthermore, changes in legislation, such as the prohibition of drivers taking their children to work, have eliminated a significant attraction for entering the driving profession.

“The requirement to acquire and apply knowledge through tests and exams, including the mandatory Driver CPC, serves as a significant deterrent. The cost of these programs, coupled with the time investment, can dissuade potential newcomers to the industry. While some companies cover the expenses of such training, I believe government funding is crucial to subsidise the initial costs of obtaining HGV1, HGV2, or ADR licenses.”

What does the future hold for recruiting drivers?

“It is imperative that the government and the Department of Transport initiate robust funding and training programs, including apprenticeships, to bolster a sector that serves as the lifeblood of all other industries, influencing their operational efficiency.

“Without such initiatives, the industry will inevitably face a cycle of escalating salaries and improved conditions, driven by necessity rather than choice. The ripple effects of this trend contribute to a growing cost of living in the UK, a prospect that, frankly speaking, is quite alarming.

We advocate a balanced approach

“Historically, the predominant demand was for agency drivers to fulfil ad-hoc needs. However, the increasing complexity in expertise, coupled with evolving legislation, has shifted the trend towards a preference for full-time placements with associated guarantees.

“In the current market dynamics, we advocate a balanced approach, encouraging our clients to embrace a combination of permanent recruitment and a contingency workforce. As previously mentioned, this strategy allows for optimum flexibility while keeping cost centres satisfied through a substantial reduction in fixed costs. The efficiency gains from a contingency workforce, deployed as needed, further contribute to this approach.

“In an ideal scenario, companies would have a self-sufficient, skilled, trained, and reliable in-house workforce operating seamlessly. However, intense industry competition, fuelled by a scarcity of available workforce, has made achieving this ideal nearly impossible. Consequently, I anticipate a growing trend where more companies will adopt a dual approach, combining a fixed and a flexible workforce to effectively navigate these challenges.”

How to achieve successful recruitment and retention

Noz explains his thoughts on strategies for successful recruitment of drivers and retainment. “A good approach when recruiting is to understand that the experience of joining a new business is crucial from the very beginning. Businesses should prioritise the individual needs of candidates when placing them into roles, working collaboratively with hiring managers to ensure a seamless transition from candidate to employee. Businesses should ensure that close attention to onboarding and training is given, ensuring specificity and thoroughness. A meticulous approach, coupled with close collaboration with partners, is what is needed from recruitment companies to result in excellent retention rates.

Noz continued to explain his views on what happens with new employees’ once they are in role: “Post-placement, commitment should continue by prioritising individual engagement, providing the necessary tools for the job, and allowing ample time for adjustment and upskilling to meet required standards.

“Regular weekly communication with contractors should be a non-negotiable practice. Beyond addressing minor issues or providing guidance on queries, this consistent communication serves as a proactive measure to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication, ultimately enhancing the overall value of service to clients.”

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a driver?

“In every aspect, be it safety, customer engagement, line manager reviews, or evaluating job offers, our message to all the drivers we engage with is consistent: take your time, carefully consider all aspects, and make the right decision.

“To new entrants, our advice is to pursue obtaining HGV1 and 2 licenses, along with an ADR certification. Being flexible and diligent is key, given the vast array of opportunities in today’s dynamic landscape. Additionally, maintaining good physical shape is often overlooked but, in our view, essential for prolonging one’s career in such a physically demanding industry.

Our focus is definitely centred around people—literally!

Claudia asked Noz what it was he enjoys the most about operating in recruitment. Noz replied: “At Aim, our focus is definitely centred around people—literally!

“Our immensely diverse customer base allows us to cultivate incredibly fruitful relationships, making the operational experience inherently enjoyable. Whether visiting sites or offices, we take pride in knowing everyone by their first names, from the cleaner to the managing director. It’s the strength of these relationships that fuels our passion and keeps us ticking.

Outside of work, Noz has an exciting development to share. His family has established a memorial foundation in his father’s name to support those in rural and deprived communities across Bangladesh. Initiatives so far include His family have established a memorial foundation in his father’s name to support those in need in rural and deprived  communities across Bangladesh. Initiatives so far include the building of a primary school, helping to develop orphanages, a monthly medical drop-in centre and providing children with scholarship opportunities. It’s something that he feels passionate about: “My dad would have wanted us to give back to the community that he came from.”

Coffee and cake anyone?

If you would like to know more about driver recruitment in the industry, or the charity that Noz has established, then get in touch with Noz and the Aim Recruit team. They will be at the UKFIDA Show and Conference in Liverpool – where they will be doing a coffee shop take over! So, grab a coffee, a cake, and a chat in April.