Driver shortages are everywhere in Europe, threatening the stability and continuity of mobility and supply chains. IRU’s recent EU Dinner Dialogue in the European Parliament brought together the road transport sector and public authorities to explore solutions.
For over a decade, professional driver shortages have become a chronic problem across Europe. And it is only getting worse. The growing lack of drivers is a real threat to EU mobility and supply chains and, by extension, the economy. Effective, immediate solutions are needed more than ever before.
IRU hosted a dinner dialogue in Brussels to focus on solutions to the problem, in particular, removing barriers to entry for young people, improving working conditions, and mobilising automation as an opportunity to enhance the industry’s image.
Raluca Marian, IRU’s Director of EU Advocacy, said, “The EU will have around 500,000 vacant driver positions by the end of the year. A truly wasted opportunity given the 14.5% youth unemployment rate.
“At the same time, it’s a threat to the continuity of supply chains and the mobility of people. The gap between the school and the wheel, driven by legislative barriers, working conditions and the image of the profession, were at the heart of our dialogue in the European Parliament.“
“It was encouraging to see how seriously the sector is pursuing solutions to driver shortages, as well as the support from European Parliamentarians and EU authorities. But the urgency of the situation is clear. We cannot continue down this path; it will lead us down a very dark road,“ she added.
The dialogue was supported by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and hosted by four members of the European Parliament: Petar Vitanov (TRAN), Dragos Pislaru (EMPL), Maria Walsh (EMPL), and Andor Deli (BUDG & TRAN). The Director-General of DG MOVE, Henrik Hololei, and Stanislav Dvorak, Director of the Czech Driver Affairs Department, also gave keynote speeches.
In addition to over 20 interventions by representatives and shippers from the sector, several young drivers, alongside experienced ones, shared their experience and how they think the sector could attract new talent.
Radu Dinescu, IRU President, had a simple message in his concluding remarks, “There’s a good understanding of the challenges and possible solutions. It’s now time for us to act and get young drivers behind the wheel.”