The IRU General Assembly, the voice of over 3.5 million companies operating mobility and logistics services, is calling on governments to focus on tailored immigration policies to address the dramatic shortage of drivers in the road transport industry.
The commercial road transport industry is the backbone of modern supply and mobility chains, serving citizens and customers efficiently anytime, anywhere, and moving our societies and economies where they need to be.
While serving businesses and consumers,the shortage of drivers seriously affects passenger transport operations and has tremendous knock-on effects on supply chains.
In 2022, more than 2.6 million commercial vehicle driver positions globally were unfilled. Increased transport demand, an ageing professional driver population, and an insufficient number of younger drivers joining the profession are the main reasons for the chronic driver shortage.
The IRU predicts that in some countries the shortage will be so dramatic that 50 per cent of the total number of driver positions could be vacant by 2026.
The road transport industry will continue doing its utmost to increase the attractiveness of the profession. Specific actions include raising awareness on the essential contribution that professional drivers make to societies and economies, improving the image of the profession, improving working conditions, advocating for safe and secure parking areas and reduction of border waiting times, increasing salaries and facilitating the path to becoming a professional driver.
In particular, attracting young people and women to the profession remains an urgent priority for the road transport industry. Bearing in mind that other sectors are also affected by a shortage of skilled labour force, resulting in strong competition between sectors for the same workforce, the industry has not been able to stop, let alone reverse, the negative trend.
Therefore, while resolutely continuing concerted actions on a national level, the road transport industry equally needs tailored legal immigration policies as a complementary measure to adequately address the current, urgent crisis. There are already positive examples of countries and regions that have successfully introduced legal immigration policies to help tackle commercial vehicle driver shortage.
It should be noted that it is not the intent of the industry to simply acquire cheap labour nor to create a detrimental skills drain in other countries. Rather, the aim would be to bring a net economic benefit to the families, the road transport industry and economies of the host country and home country.
Jobs in a host country need to be paid in line with national wages, alongside respecting the social and decent working conditions and training standards already in place. It must also be highlighted that safety and security standards are imperative and cannot, under any circumstances, be compromised.