Governments and operators must do more to address driver shortages, says Ti CEO

Ti-Insight’s Chief Executive, John Manners-Bell, recently addressed the Girteka Client Day in Copenhagen, speaking to an audience of logistics and supply chain professionals drawn from some of Europe’s largest manufacturers and retailers.

In his speech, he highlighted one of the major challenges facing the European road freight industry: driver shortages. According to the IRU, one-in-five of driving vacancies is presently unfilled, leading to higher costs for operators, their customers as well as lower quality services.

Manners-Bell explained to the audience that there were many reasons why not enough drivers were being attracted to the industry:

  • Perception of the job as being low paid in comparison with other sectors
  • The increasing cost of training to pass the LGV test
  • Poor working conditions, including lack of truck stops and basic welfare facilities
  • Lack of security and the notion that drivers were ‘unpaid security guards’
  • A work-life balance incompatible with the needs of a new generation of workers
  • Alternative, more flexible and local driver jobs in the ‘on-demand’ or personal mobility sectors
  • Poor public perception of the industry overall.

Many of these issues have been factors in putting women off from joining the industry, making up just 2% of the driver workforce. This has essentially restricted recruitment to only half the available pool of labour.

Manners-Bell went on to say that the industry was undertaking many initiatives to address some of these problems and he commended Girteka for its commitment to driver welfare which has consequently led to a low turnover in drivers. Other initiatives he highlighted included focusing on recruitment from the armed forces.

He also said that national governments had a role to play and he called for legislation to make it easier to develop lorry parks; the provision of more money for training and better awareness in schools.

However, much more will have to be done to address the long term and systemic inefficiency of the industry to better utilise existing vehicle capacity. Statistics suggest that on average trucks are two-fifths empty at any one time and totally empty 30% of the time. Improvements can only be achieved by digitizing many processes and digital freight market platforms will play an important role in this respect. Autonomous, connected trucks will also transform the industry, not by replacing the driver (at least not in the next twenty years) but by assisting them, making the job less stressful and safer.

Source: Transport Intelligence, May 21, 2019

Author: Transport Intelligence