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The International Road Transport Union’s 2021 driver shortage survey has indicated that road transport companies expect a 10% rise in driver shortages this year.

In a statement published yesterday, the IRU explained that the coronavirus pandemic saw the shortage of truck drivers in Europe fall significantly in 2020 – from 24% to just 7%.

However, the survey also found that European companies are expecting a 17% shortfall in drivers this year. The 10% increase is on account of the extra demand created from economies across Europe recovering as vaccines allow lockdowns to be relaxed.

“Driver shortage threatens the functioning of road transport, supply chains, trade, the economy, and ultimately employment and citizens’ welfare. This is not an issue that can wait, action needs to be taken now,” said IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto.

According to the IRU, survey respondents cited a lack of trained drivers as the main cause in all regions (38% of the total respondents). Challenging working conditions, further exacerbated by the pandemic, and difficulties attracting women and young people to the profession were also mentioned.

The percentage of truck drivers under 25 fell nearly everywhere in 2020 and is down to 5% in Europe. The average age of drivers is increasing globally too, a trend the IRU has referred to as a “demographic time bomb” that will only get worse without action.

Last October, the IRU called on governments to make it easier for young adults to become lorry drivers.  However, there are a number of barriers to entry that remain for those hoping to join the profession.

In this article we published following that IRU statement, a number of UK-based lorry drivers said that low pay, high training and insurance costs, as well as a lack of future prospects, make the position of lorry driver less attractive.


Photo credit: Mark Eslick / Flickr

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