Truck drivers are a rare breed, and increasingly so as driver shortages hit the headlines around the world.
In the United States, there’s estimated to be a current shortage of at least 80,000 drivers, while in Europe, almost half a million positions are unfilled.
Here in Australia, more than 21,000 driving positions are now being advertised on SEEK, and some estimates say 30,000 drivers are needed to fill the shortfall over the next four years.
Cleanaway recently made the news saying it had to get its managers to drive trucks because it had 670 driving jobs unfilled.
The shortage is a problem with no easy short-term fix, highlighted by the disparity between the number of drivers retiring and the numbers joining the profession.
For instance, 30% of all current drivers in Europe will retire by 2026. Still, only a fraction of that number will replace them, severely exacerbating current shortages unless something can be done.
In Australia, fewer than 15% of drivers are under 30, and less than 5% are women.
Various issues have been highlighted regarding why truck driving fails to attract the next generation, including poor roadside facilities, limited parking options and insurance. None of this is helped by a tight labour market that offers numerous alternative jobs to potential future drivers.
Whatever the reason, one of the most important things we can do is show the upcoming generation the trucking industry’s importance and the drivers’ vital role in keeping the nation’s economy moving.