Photo credits @ Flickr/ Bhavishya Goel – CC BY 2.0

Pools of local drivers across the EU not enough to plug shortage, claims IRU

Following a meeting between the IRU and Nicolas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, both parties have concluded that the highly-documented driver shortage in the EU cannot be filled with drivers from the EU alone. In light of this conclusion, the European Commission has said it is working on a “Pact of Migration" to attract drivers from outside the EU and the EEA.

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The details of the meeting, and the European Commission’s plans, were highlighted by the IRU on its website yesterday.

During the meeting, representatives from the IRU, together with its member Fédération Luxembourgeoise des Exploitants d’Autobus et d’Autocars (FLEAA), met European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit to discuss “current social issues and future developments that are particularly concerning for the EU road transport industry.”

On of those issues was Europe’s driver shortage, which was considered to be a real threat to EU mobility and supply chains and, by extension, the economy.

The IRU stresses that without action to make the driver profession more accessible and attractive, Europe could lack over two million drivers by 2026, impacting half of all freight movements and millions of passenger journeys.

Given the forecasted increase in the driver shortage, the IRU claims the pools of local drivers across the EU will not be enough to fill the gap.

The aforementioned meeting therefore focused on the topic of attracting qualified drivers from third-countries.

“The European Commission is developing a concrete tool to attract third-country talents to the EU market. This started with the “Pact on Migration” and continues with specific projects involving pools of non-EU workers. We are happy that Commissioner Schmit sees drivers as part of a highly skilled workforce who deserve to be included in a talent pool project,” said IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian.

The IRU and Commissioner Schmit also discussed measures to facilitate young people’s access to the profession through a conscious focus on apprenticeships at a young age.

The IRU believes very low number of young professional drivers is a truly wasted opportunity given that EU youth unemployment was at 14.5% by the end of 2022.

The Commissioner added that the EU is also focusing on driver training, skills shortages and reskilling. He notes that efforts must be maintained to attract new talent to the EU driver pool as well as streamline and modernise training to ensure that professional drivers are adequately trained and up to date with technological developments and eco-driving.

On social matters, the IRU emphasised the central role of sectoral social dialogue and engagement with social partners at the EU level to promote social cohesion and resilience, as well as to shape EU labour legislation, policies and decision-making processes.

Photo credits @ Flickr/ Bhavishya GoelCC BY 2.0