Freight News, Road

European truck driving is in crisis, says IRU

[ March 21, 2019   //   ]

A fifth of driver positions are unfilled in European road transport according to a report by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) published on 21 March.  The sector is facing its most acute shortage in decades, it said.

Polling of IRU members and associated organisations in Europe from October 2018 to January 2019 revealed a driver shortage of 21% in the freight sector. However, the shortfall is predicted to reach 40% as demand grows in 2019.

In the UK, the shortage is estimated to be growing at 50 drivers per day.

IRU managing director Boris Blanche, commented: “The transport industry needs to take immediate and decisive action to tackle the driver shortage. Left unchecked, it will have serious implications for the European economy and lead to rising costs for businesses, consumers and passengers.

“But there is no shortage of opportunity in this profession. In fact, our research found that job satisfaction tends to be high, with only 20% of drivers surveyed expressing any dissatisfaction with their work.”

However, drivers interviewed believe the poor image of the profession is stifling recruitment with the difficulty of attracting women to the profession one of the top reasons for the shortage. International Transport Forum figures show that female drivers make up just 2% of the total.

Some 70% of drivers aged 25-34 believe the difficulty of attracting young drivers is one of top reasons for the driver shortage.

Many also think that long periods away from home deter many from entering the profession.

The industry also suffers from an ageing labour force. In Europe most transport companies are employing drivers whose average age is 44 years old.

IRU has launched a joint initiative with the European Shippers Council (ESC) to develop common principles aimed at improving the treatment of drivers at delivery sites and will set up a Women in Transport Network, aimed at increasing the number employed in the sector to promote transport as an attractive field to work in.