So many operators are finding it hard. What’s the solution?
The shortage of truck drivers is a chronic issue.
The age of the driver population is one reason why it’s a chronic issue.
A lot of truck drivers are reaching the age of retirement. But not as many new people are joining the profession.
As a result, transport operators, even more so small- and medium-sized companies, the core of the road transport industry, are finding it hard to hire new drivers.
IRU’s latest truck driver shortage survey found that over 50% of trucking companies in most countries face severe or very severe difficulties hiring skilled drivers.
The 2023 IRU truck driver shortage study is based on 4,700 operators from 36 countries representing over 70% of global GDP.
What can be done?
Becoming a truck driver must be made more accessible.
High training, licence and insurance costs make it expensive to become a truck driver. In France, for example, the average cost to obtain a truck driver licence and a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) is EUR 5,250, over three times the minimum monthly wage.
Meanwhile, the UK’s “skills bootcamps” programme, launched in late 2021, has resulted in record numbers of people obtaining their licence. The government programme covers the cost getting a truck driver licence and CPC, going as far as covering the cost of medical tests. The government has attributed an additional GBP 50 million for 2024–2025.
The “school-to-wheel” gap also needs to be closed. The minimum driving age for international freight transport is still between 21 in some countries.
But that’s not it. The profession needs to be made more attractive.
A drastic lack of safe and secure parking areas in many parts of the world is reducing the appeal of the profession.
However, in places with an ageing population such as Europe, the available pool of local talent may not be enough to cover the gap.
The access of qualified third-country drivers to the profession should be facilitated, allowing countries with a surplus of professional drivers to help cover gaps where needed.