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Since late 2017, there has been an ongoing worry within the logistics industry regarding a shortage of truck drivers. Given that drivers are arguably the core of the road freight industry, a shortage could see reduced capacity, a slower industry as a whole, and risks of supply chain clogs during peak delivery times. Given that discussion began before Christmas but is still ongoing, any speculation as to whether this was just a concern for the peak season has long been overridden. Below, we’re discussing the driver shortage and whether it’s as bad as we may have first thought.

Christmas Worry

The biggest concern within the freight industry throughout the entire year will always centre around the Christmas period. From Black Friday through to the January sales, these months are the busiest of all for freight forwarders and retailers alike, and a shortage in drivers has obviously set people on edge. With Brexit also causing an unprecedented level of stress for these companies, it has been suggested that the shortage isn’t actually a shortage at all, and is in fact just an unnecessary worry. But with concerns of extreme delays and undelivered parcels, what could be the reason for the shortage and can we fix it?

The Causes

  • Demographic

Did you know that the average age for a truck driver is around 45-55 years old? With many of the current drivers due to retire in the next 10-20 years, it’s vital that we get hiring and we get hiring fast. Attracting younger employees is a must, but it can also prove to be difficult. While it isn’t exactly unheard of for younger drivers of both genders to pick up the career, encouraging this is a must.

  • The Lifestyle

The lifestyle of a truck driver has been described as being a lonely one. From long hours in the cab alone, to overnight driving that can mean you don’t see your family very often, the on-the-road lifestyle just isn’t for everyone. With technology, keeping in touch with your family is easier now than before, but it still isn’t something that many seem to want to pick up. However, there are as many pros as there are cons of being a truck driver to consider, so it’s important to promote these pros as opposed to allow the cons to prevail.

Can It Be Solved?

While the argument as to whether there is a driver shortage is certainly up for debate, there are still changes and adjustments that can improve the overall intake of staff in the industry and we’ve collected just a few:

  • Lower The Driving Age

The regulated driving age in the UK is 18, but abroad it isn’t quite as low. In the US, for example, the age is 21 and by this point, most young people looking for employment will have already set themselves on the path of a different career. Lowering the regulated driver age and making training more accessible could mean that young people will be more inclined to consider taking up a career in the freight forwarding industry.

  • Autonomous Trucking

The discussion around autonomous technology within the freight industry is certainly a hot one, and the industry has already seen this technology within warehouses. There have even been tests on driverless vehicles. While we aren’t expected to be driving alongside lorries without a human inside anytime soon, the investment and development of this technology could see it become commonplace sooner than we think.

  • Target Minorities, Women, Veterans and the Unemployed

Truck driving comes with its stereotypes, and so avoiding these stereotypes completely and targeting those who are seeking work, who may not be able to get work elsewhere and increasing the volume of women in the industry can not only benefit the logistics market as a whole, but will encourage more and more of these people to join the career. While experience is certainly something that a lot of companies are grateful to see in their prospective employees, taking out time to train new staff who may not have the same level of experience will ensure that they aren’t excluding anyone from an industry desperate for staff.

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