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Nurturing talent: Italian bus company takes matters into its own hands
Italy | Turin

Nurturing talent: Italian bus company takes matters into its own hands

21 Mar 2023 · People

Italy, like most countries, is suffering from a shortage of drivers, which is compounded by the minimum driving age being 21. Italian transport operator "Bus Company" has taken matters into its own hands, launching a training academy. Fabrizio Corona, Responsible for Academy and Training at Bus Company, told us all about it.

Already in 2018, it had become difficult to meet the demand for bus drivers. In Italy, the minimum driving age for bus drivers is 21. But people cannot wait until they turn 21 to become professional drivers, let alone to begin their training.

Then Covid-19 hit, exacerbating the shortage of drivers. Sadly, we also lost the founder and then president of our company, Clemente Galleano, to Covid-19.

Today, we face the risk of not being able to meet public transport demand and our historical responsibility due to the shortage of drivers. Bus Company was the first public transport company in Cuneo.

Given that the average age of bus drivers is high while the share of young drivers is very low, the shortage of drivers will only worsen in the coming years.

This is happening even though youth unemployment in Italy is above the EU average at nearly 30%, with many young graduates looking for jobs. 

Training academy

In December 2021, we decided to take matters into our own hands and launched the Clemente Galleano Bus Company Academy, named after our late founder.

trainingWe had to overcome considerable bureaucratic and technical hurdles. The first edition of the programme was launched in October 2022 with 21 men and women aged between 19 and 29.

The students learned theoretical and practical aspects related to routes and lines, regulations, and travel documents.

Those who were already 21 or older obtained their licence in January 2023, while those who were younger are on standby waiting to turn 21 to pass their licence exam.

The programme is free of charge, all costs are borne by us. The second edition of the programme will start in April 2023.

We have also added a new aspect to our training programme which focuses on posture and physical well-being to help our young drivers stay healthy.

An IRU report published in November 2022 showed that truck, bus and coach driver shortages in Europe are spiralling out of control, fuelled by increased transport demand and an ageing driver population.

Minimum age for bus and coach drivers is between 21 and 24 in most EU countries, a huge barrier to attracting young people after school. Minimum age may also vary within a country, depending on local regulations, exemptions and licence rules.

IRU is pushing the European Union to use the ongoing revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive to lower and harmonise the minimum driving age across the EU, including for passenger transport, as well as to allow young people to start their professional driver training before turning 18.

In the latest developments, the European Commission’s proposal for the revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive put forth many promising aspects that can help to address the chronic shortage of drivers in the goods transport sector. But it fell completely short when it comes to passenger mobility.