Courtesy Today’s Trucking, April 1, 2021
Driver shortage and its solutions are the same the world over
Misery loves company, or so people say. If that’s true, Canadian drivers and fleet managers might be at least a little glad to know that the scarcity of safe truck parking has been identified as a serious issue right around the world.
In fact, according to the International Road Transport Union, that scarcity is a major part of the “challenging working conditions” suffered by drivers from Russia to Mexico, Europe to China. And improving those conditions – parking in particular – is seen as a key to resolving the driver shortage that’s as severe in the rest of the world as it is here.
According to a broad survey done between October 2020 and January 2021, the shortage is serious and about to get worse.
“Despite reduced demand due to Covid-19, there is still an alarming shortage of drivers,” says the organization. “Surveying 777 road transport companies from 23 countries, the IRU found that [the] driver shortage was most acute in Eurasia, where last year 20% of driver positions were not filled. China was the least affected country in 2020 with only 4% of jobs open. Elsewhere, [the] driver shortage was less serious in 2020 than 2019 due to the pandemic. In Europe, unfilled driver positions fell by around three quarters, from 24% to 7% for truck drivers.”
But European companies are expecting a 17% shortfall in drivers this year, 18% in Mexico, 20% in Turkey, 24% in Russia, and almost one third in Uzbekistan, says the IRU.
The survey also investigated the reasons for the driver shortage, finding that a lack of trained drivers was the main cause in all regions (38% of respondents). It also cited those “challenging working conditions,” further exacerbated by the pandemic.
Missing: women and the young
As in North America, the survey also noted difficulties attracting women and young people to the profession. Only 2% of truck drivers globally are women, and all countries surveyed saw the percentage of women truck drivers fall last year.
The percentage of truck drivers under 25 fell nearly everywhere in 2020, from already low levels down to 5% in Europe and Russia, 6% in Mexico and 7% in Turkey. With youth unemployment well over 30% in some countries, attracting young people to the sector should be simple, according to the IRU report. But the minimum age for professional drivers is 21 or higher in many places, creating a large gap between leaving school and taking the wheel.
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