Driver shortage worsens across Europe
The European road transport sector is facing its most acute professional driver shortage in decades, a new report by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) suggests.
And in the UK, as Brexit looms, the shortage of drivers is estimated to be growing at a “staggering” rate of 50 drivers per day, the report notes.
The Tackling driver shortage in Europe report is based on intelligence from IRU stakeholders across the European transport sector and two recent surveys the global road transport organisation has carried out.
The survey data revealed a driver shortage of 21% in the freight transport sector and 19% in the bus and coach. The problem is getting worse, said IRU, with the shortfall predicted to reach 40% in both sectors as demand grows in 2019.
Boris Blanche, IRU’s Managing Director, commented: “The transport industry needs to take immediate and decisive action to tackle the driver shortage. Left unchecked, it will have serious implications for the European economy and lead to rising costs for businesses, consumers and passengers.
“But there is no shortage of opportunity in this profession. In fact, our research found that job satisfaction tends to be high, with only 20% of drivers surveyed expressing any dissatisfaction with their work.”
Key findings from the report:
Mr Blanche continued: “A global effort must be made to address negative misperceptions and improve the image of the profession. At the same time, all industry stakeholders must act to improve working conditions in the sector. The treatment of drivers should be improved, with adequate and sufficient infrastructure and facilities provided.
“For industry to attract a new and diverse workforce, particularly increasing the employment of young people and women, a more inclusive recruitment policy must be put into place across the sector.”
IRU said it has created an action plan of short, medium and long-term measures, including the regular collection of solid company data, to find facts and monitor trends; a joint initiative with the European Shippers Council (ESC) to develop common principles aimed at improving the treatment of drivers at delivery sites; and the formation of an expert group to address driver training legislation and its effectiveness.
A Women in Transport Network will also be established, aimed at increasing the number of women in the transport sector and their representation at all working levels as well as to promote transport as an attractive field for women to work in. The network will contribute to incentives such as creating awards for female drivers and best performing companies in terms of recruitment, inclusiveness and retention.
Matthias Maedge, IRU’s General Delegate, warned: “Already the driver shortage is creating serious headaches for transport operators, impacting the people and businesses that rely on their services. Unfortunately, this is only set to worsen. We should not be fooled into thinking automation will solve this issue. There is still some way to go until the road transport industry sees full automation, and the partial adoption we are currently witnessing will require a sizeable workforce with an increasingly diverse skillset. This makes the need for decisive action to attract new talent all the more immediate.
“IRU has made the driver shortage one of its key priorities for 2019. We will work with public and private stakeholders such as national governments, local authorities, and social and industry partners to find solutions to address the impending crisis.”
Posted on: March 22nd 2019