Shifting to a diverse and inclusive industry in times of driver shortages was at the heart of discussions at the fourth IRU RoadMasters Forum, held virtually last week.
The IRU RoadMasters Forum brought together almost 150 people from along the entire transport value chain, from shippers and logistics providers through to transport operators and international organisations.
The event highlighted the road transport sector’s need to speed up efforts to attract an inclusive and diverse workforce, against a backdrop of persistent skills shortages and difficulties for potential candidates to enter the driving profession.
The latest annual IRU driver shortage survey report, as well as how the European Commission’s upcoming package on attracting skills and talent to the EU via legal migration could benefit our industry, both attracted keen interest and discussion.
There was a consensus view was that policy makers need to act, notably by reviewing current conditions on how people access the profession. However, the industry itself also needs to act in driving a genuine transition towards a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
Mark van der Drift, CEO of Cornelissen, said: “My successor as CEO will be a woman. To get a company that is successful in managing gender balance, you cannot solely focus on drivers, the whole organisation needs to get balanced. To be successful in working with women, think about building a women-friendly culture. Listen and be creative and open-minded, invest in promoting women in the driver profession.”
Koen Vandevelde, Quality Manager at Ninatrans, said: “You have to treat young drivers differently than your more senior drivers, as they have different values. We perceive that young drivers like competitions, thus to retain them we organise driver competitions, ranking them and rewarding them with gifts. You also have to review your training models to ensure more engaging ways, notably by using more visuals, balancing in-class training with practical exercises and role-plays.”
Jorge Cima, Head of Active Employment Policy Programmes at ALSA, said: “There is still a perception that commercial driving is a “man’s world”, and this is often very much enshrined in social perceptions; thus a large part of the population still believes that women drivers are worse than men. Actually, our experience proves that women are very much fit for the job. In fact, women demonstrate similar or superior performance as they are more risk averse and demonstrate better social skills, which are key parts of the job in passenger transport.”
Isabelle Maître, EU delegate for the French National Road Haulage Federation, spoke about the Main-Forte initiative: “To make migrants’ integration efficient, there are some challenges to overcome to ensure you meet national or regional professional standards. However, you do not always need to start from scratch in their professional development as they generally already fulfill many prerequisites. Think about addressing knowledge and skills gaps by using testing and validation solutions.”
Participants concluded that the importance of investing in professional skills and competencies is accepted, but effective solutions to assist companies to manage their talents are still missing.
IRU supports road transport entrepreneurs to invest in people, back attractive job creation and provide business with tools and services to help drivers and other professionals learn and grow continuously through their professional lives.
Learn more about IRU RoadMasters.