Today we practice listening to English language being spoken by a native British English speaker. This listening practice conversation is about supply issues in the UK. The subject of this podcast lesson is not that important. The English language you will learn is.
Supply problems in the UK may be important on Sept 2021, right now, especially if you're being inconvenienced. However, in a few months, or years, this problem will have come and gone. The point is the topic is interesting, but the real value of listening to this is the English listening practice that helps build up the language learning parts of your brain.
When something goes wrong, it's easy to jump to conclusions. You're angry and you usually want the problem to just go away as quickly as possible. It's interesting to see the news headlines, which are all about failure, panic, etc. All of which encourage people to engage (usually with advertising) at a superficial and selfish level.
A good truck driver needs discipline. Traffic, weather, eating, sleeping, showering, fueling, getting work done on the truck; it takes a truck driver a long time to learn how to jungle everything.
⭐ Joanna Dunham, Actress
Politicians use the situation to punish those in power, the people in charge. People who did not want Brexit use it to say, “I told you so!”. Lorry drivers use the problems to highlight long-term problems with their industry. The worriers use the problems to highlight how fragile a world we live in. The climate change people shout about how we need to consume less. It's exhausting to listen to.
In reality, it's never one simple, obvious reason for the issues we have in UK lorry based supply delivery today. I can think of at least 6 or 7 contributing factors to the problems we have right now in the UK, and I know very little about the industry. When you live in a global "just in time…" delivery world, it's very easy for things to go wrong.
One trend I've noticed in the UK, and in the western world in general, we are not used to hardships. We have a pretty peaceful life much of the time. Things typically work and we've all become used to it, so when something breaks, we typically overreact. Who knows, I might be wrong, and in a year we still have issues in the UK, but regardless, I can guarantee that listening to this English language learning podcast will see something positive come from it.
Shortage Haulage Vehicle Inconvenienced Fragile Contributing Overreact Superficial
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Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English.
Sometimes, in order for you to practise your English understanding on everyday subjects, I do a podcast on the news – or on an item, a story in the news, either in the UK or somewhere else in the world. It's something topical – that's fun to do. And even if you're listening to this podcast sometime later – whatever I'm talking about might be past history, but it's still useful to you, from the point of view of vocabulary!
I make sure that you're learning all kinds of vocabulary that you will need if you're going to become fluent in English. And I also make it personal – it's about my experience, what I've noticed, my opinion. And I think sometimes this makes it more interesting – people like a personal element! And if it keeps you listening to our English language podcasts for longer, then that's got to be good for your English and good for Adept English at the same time!
And if you'd like to download lots of our podcasts, to help your learning, go to our website at adeptenglish.com and buy one of our podcast download bundles – you'll be really glad you did this – lots of lovely English language listening.
So here goes for today. Something that's a concern in the UK at the moment – and I'm not sure whether it might be the case in other places in the world? The UK is starting to have problems with supply and transportation. And it seems to be a growing problem.
So in the UK, we are very lucky and our systems for the supply of food and essential items – and probably non-essential items as well and our services - well, they're all usually quite good. We're not used to shortages, we're not used to having to wait for things. A ‘shortage', SHORTAGE means when something is ‘in short supply' meaning that there's ‘not enough of it'.
We're not used to having shortages of things we want to buy here – and we're used to our services being good. So if we want to ‘buy a service', we expect it to be good service. And even when it's our public services – that's the ones, the services that the state, the government if you like, provide, we expect those services to be efficient too.
So the first thing I noticed, and this is a small inconvenience I know – I pay for what's known as a ‘green bin'. If you've listened to Adept English podcasts for a while, you'll know that I'm quite a keen gardener. I like to garden – and therefore I'm generating what we might call ‘green waste' – so that's all the material from my garden that I want to throw away. It might be grass cuttings, leaves, dead plants.
So I pay for a special ‘green bin', which I can fill, full of garden waste material and the council – that's local government here – they send round a lorry once a fortnight to empty the ‘green bin'. Well, my green bin has not been emptied for some weeks now. And the reason? The company that runs the scheme has not got enough drivers for the trucks. Drivers are in short supply in the UK, especially lorry and truck drivers.
Since then, the news has been talking about how there may be more shortages in shops. The whole system that delivers food into our shops and supermarkets is starting to be a problem here, because of a shortage of what are called HGV drivers. HGV stands for ‘Heavy Goods Vehicle' – and an HGV driving licence means that you've had special training to drive a big truck or a lorry.
It's thought to be partly as a result of Brexit that there's now a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK – but also not enough people doing this type of work because well, the terms and conditions aren't that great. And this problem is even starting to affect the delivery of fuel, of petrol and diesel to our petrol stations. So as soon as this is in the news, it creates more of a problem because of course, everyone goes to the petrol station to fill up their car. And yes, I'm guilty – I went this morning too to fill up my car with petrol and I queued along the road at our local petrol station.
A photograph of a petrol tanker in petrochemical plant. UK Just in time delivery of critical supplies is failing in this English listening practice lesson.
The public transport (that means the bus) where I live isn't very good, so I have to use my car if I want to go anywhere. Of course, I don't want to be stuck at home with no petrol in my tank – and that's how everyone around here was feeling too – hence why there was a queue at the petrol station. I've looked since and now there seems to be no petrol at all in the petrol station.
Apparently BP petrol stations have had to close. Last month MacDonalds ran out of milkshake for a time and Nandos had to close because...well, there was no chicken – and they don't really serve anything else, I don't think! All of this was apparently down to supply chain and a lack of drivers.
Well, our lovely Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has been interviewed on the news and was reassuring everybody that there ‘isn't a problem'. He was saying that it's not a problem of supply – the petrol is in the refinery. The problem is definitely one of there being not enough drivers.
Apparently the ‘haulage industry' – that's HAULAGE – that means the industry around transportation of goods, of products on lorries – the haulage industry in the UK is short of 100,000 drivers. Terms and conditions are not great – it's an uncomfortable, tiring and difficult job – and the rate of pay has not been good enough. Many lorry drivers in the UK are 55 years or older – and many more are leaving the profession each month than join. So this is a problem.
There have been calls mainly from the supermarkets and food distributers for drivers with HGV licences to be added to the list of jobs, the list of occupations for which immigration restrictions post-Brexit don't apply. And in response the UK government have said that up to 50,000 European lorry drivers can be given temporary visas for the next three months, so that they can do this work.
I'm not sure how many European lorry drivers will want to take this up – they may prefer to continue working in Europe rather than come to the UK to work temporarily! But, it's not just Brexit that's the cause of this problem. Also a problem in the UK – the number of driving tests for HGV drivers that were cancelled because of the pandemic. It's estimated that there is a backlog of 40,000 HGV driver tests.
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Well, part of the solution surely is to put more people on that – and get those drivers licences done as quickly as possible! I don't know what HGV drivers normally get paid. It's certainly a hard job, with unsocial hours, and there aren't that many people who want to do it. There are also regulations, rules about how long you can drive for, before you have to take a break.
I do see the reason for these rules, but I also see that it makes the overall journey take a lot longer. I heard on the news that the rate of pay for HGV drivers is going up enormously – maybe more people will be tempted to do it.
Anyway, whatever the UK government do about this issue, it's not going to be sorted out immediately. I wonder what's going to happen. I'm sure it's not going to be a situation we can't live with – we just have to do without certain things. Maybe it's going to be a difficult period. And maybe this sort of thing makes us give a different priority to certain types of jobs – like HGV drivers! There wouldn't be a lot of food on our table without them, that's for sure – we're entirely dependent upon them, actually!
Let us know whether anything like this is a problem in your country? Maybe it's just a UK thing. Maybe this is just another result of Brexit having happened. And probably this is something that market forces will put right – if you offer better terms and conditions and better working hours to HGV licence holders, maybe you don't have shortage of drivers. But let's see what happens. We're definitely starting to think differently about some jobs – and to appreciate them more. So here's to HGV drivers – we appreciate you and the important job that you do for us.
And just a thought as we finish – if you listened to our podcast last Monday on ‘Adverbs of Probability', see how many of those adverbs you can spot in this podcast!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.