Road transport operators concerned about driver shortage

Date: 06, November 2018
Representatives from road transport associations from all over the world, meeting at the IRU general assembly on November 6, 2018, have agreed on ambitious visions and recommendations on how to address the serious issue of growing driver shortage experienced all over the world. The visions and recommendations are proposing concrete steps to be taken in the short, medium and long-term.

The vision and recommendations are trying to make sure that concrete steps can be taken to counter the serious, global challenge of driver shortage.

While the problem is linked to demographics, and thus a problem facing many industries, the challenges facing road transport are perhaps particularly severe. The representatives from the road transport associations therefore agreed on a long list of steps that need to be taken.

The list covers issues such as developing a better understanding of the problem and better communication about the issue. Despite best efforts, the road transport industry is facing an unprecedented structural challenge with increasing difficulties to find and recruit professionals in our industry; this may be the worst and most acute professional driver shortage in decades. If this problem is not properly addressed, the very survival of many road transport businesses will be put at risk, ultimately endangering the ability of our societies and economies to move, produce and trade in a safe, secure, green, affordable and socially inclusive way.

Recognising that many solutions are the responsibility of the road transport operators - such as working conditions, attractive work places, respect and recognition of rights, use of apprentices - others including the public sector also have a contribution to make.

Not least is th training an important issue, where the access to instruction for a drivers licence for HGVs is an important first step. Public authorities can help on many issues with financing, regulatory adjustments and joint campaigns. But operators hold also a key to success.

Therefore the IRU wants to develop a tool box for operators, to help them recruit, train and keep drivers in their businesses.

Automatisation is an issue that has an impact on these questions. However, for the foreseeable future the drivers will still be needed. However their tasks will change. The training and recruitment need to reflect these new exciting opportunities as a way of attract talent to the industry.

NLA welcomes the initiative of the IRU. Members of the NLA have actively contributed to the work, reflecting the importance of driver shortage also in the Nordic countries. NLA strongly believes that a necessary first step is to recognise the importance of the working conditions and the respect for the driver and his/her contribution to the company. From this will follow a work force that is content with their work place in the long term. However, operators also need the cooperation with other stakeholders, to make sure that the road transport industry can develop to reflect the changing demands of civil society. Flexibility and joint actions are needed, to make sure that for instance working times and acces times (to cities, terminals etc) match.

The IRU and its members will start working on the vision in the coming months.