The European road transport sector is facing the most acute professional driver shortage in decades.
That’s the conclusion of a report by the International Road Transport Union (IRU), based on insight from stakeholders across the European transport industry and drawn from two surveys.
The data revealed a visible driver shortage of 21% in the freight transport sector and 19% in the bus and coach sector.
The problem, the report says, is accelerating, with the shortfall predicted to reach 40% in both sectors as demand grows in 2019.
The key finings include:-
- 57% of male drivers and 63% of female drivers believe the poor image of the profession is stifling recruitment.
- 79% of drivers believe the difficulty of attracting women to the profession is one of the top reasons for the driver shortage. This is underlined by data from the International Transport Forum, showing female drivers make up just 2% of European road transport drivers .
- 70% of drivers aged 25-34 believe the difficulty of attracting young drivers is one of top reasons for the driver shortage.
- Amongst drivers, 76% believe that working conditions, and 77% think long periods away from home deter many from entering the profession.
- The industry also suffers from an ageing labour force. In Europe the majority of freight transport sector companies are employing drivers whose average age is 44 years old, while in the passenger transport sector the average age of their employed drivers is 52 years old.
Boris Blanche, IRU’s Managing Director, said: “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.
“A global effort must be made to address negative misperceptions and improve the image of the profession. At the same time, all industry stakeholders must act to improve working conditions in the sector. The treatment of drivers should be improved, with adequate and sufficient infrastructure and facilities provided.”