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The Spanish transport industry has serious staff shortages. The gap will widen further as the average age of a Spanish truck driver is around 55 years. 

The sector estimates that as much as 70% of existing drivers will retire in the next decade. “Driving a truck is a type of work that is becoming extinct,” reads the Catalan news portal ccma.cat.

Industry employers are warning that a shortage of drivers, especially in the case of trucks with higher tonnage, is preventing the sector from developing and meeting the growing demand in the market. Currently, in Spain, there is a shortage of 15,000 truckers and despite many job offers, there are no candidates, informs ccma.cat.

Ageing truckers and reluctant young generation

Spanish companies face a double problem: the average age of truck drivers is high (about 55 years old) and there is a shortage of young people interested in working in the industry. 

In Spain, retraining as a driver was a way of surviving the crisis and now, when there is not a trace left after the collapse of 2008, working at the wheel of a truck is no longer attractive. 

Young people are not interested in this profession because of the salary, nature of the work and the working hours. 

Salaries make this job not very attractive. Distribution in Catalonia pays around €1,400 and national and international transport means a salary of around €2,000,” says Joaquín Gil, Transport Advisor from the Association of Transport and Logistics in Catalonia on ccma.cat.

Young people are discouraged not only by hard work and the vision of nights spent away from home. For many of them, a serious obstacle is the cost of obtaining the qualifications, which in Spain is about €3,000.

Spanish carriers will soon face an even greater challenge – 70% of truckers will retire within the next decade.

At the moment, companies are catching on to various solutions, although not as sophisticated as the Germans who are offering free flats, or the French who provide drivers with cars or give shares in the company. 

Spanish carriers are in contact with driving schools to provide them with information on persons obtaining a licence to drive a heavy goods vehicle. But as we read on ccma.cat, calls from the driver training centre are not frequent. 

Young experienced drivers like yetis

A forklift truck operator in a warehouse works 8 hours a day and sleeps at home every day. He earns as much as a truck driver who doesn’t know how many days he’ll spend away from home,” says Evaristo Magaña, president of ASTAC CONDAL, on the Catalan portal. A young and experienced truck driver is like a yeti in the industry. 

This was proven by operators from the Catalan association of carriers who created a fictitious profile on a job portal: A 40-year-old truck driver with about 20 years of experience. Offers flowed in a wide stream. Some companies immediately offered a contract of employment with a salary higher than the industry average.

Some carriers refuse new orders

Like German or Austrian carriers, Spanish operators do not accept certain orders because they lack drivers. This is the case with Fredist, based in Masies de Voltregà, Catalonia, which employs more than 100 drivers. The company refuses new orders because it knows that it will not find 5 or 10 more drivers.  

According to Joan Casanovas of Fredist, e-commerce has significantly increased transport volumes, but shippers are adjusting the rates to suit themselves, and “the increase in wages is complicated at low margins.” 

The low margins, on the other hand, are due, according to the Catalan transport association, to the fact that carriers are applying rates from a decade or two ago when fuel cost half as much as it does now.

This is the reason for the impoverishment of the sector,” Joaquín Gil regrets.

Swapping roles in recruitment

The Spanish company Disfrimur, which employs more than 700 people, is implementing a special plan to make the profession of  a driver more attractive to young people.

At the end of last year, Disfrimur signed an agreement with the Employment and Training Office (SEF) in Murcia, under which both entities will cooperate in the recruitment and selection of truck drivers.

The traditional recruitment procedure is reversed in the initial selection phase,” Disfrimur explains. “The company has to present itself from the best side and encourage the candidate to sign the contract and work in this profession. The pilot phase will include courses and internships, as well as employment in the Spanish company.”

Photo: Trans.INFO

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