The Challenge of the Road Transport Industry’s Skills Shortage

The Challenge of the Road Transport Industry’s Skills Shortage
July 27, 2018 Hannah Marshallsay

The ongoing skills shortage is by far the most significant challenge facing the road transport sector in Western Economies in 2018.

One of the main driving forces behind the logistics industry are people. However there is a shortage of skilled workers across the industry with the problem being particularly acute with truck drivers. The USA and UK, among several other European countries, are experiencing major driver shortage issues.

It is estimated that the sector is in urgent need of tens of thousands of truck drivers, this creates a constant and ongoing challenge of finding suitably skilled staff to drive logistics businesses forward.

Why is recruitment an issue?

Attracting new people into the industry the nub of the problem. One of the largest issues influencing the driver shortage is the demographic of the current workforce. The trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older. Average HGV driver ages continue to increase which is a cause for concern for the future. With an alarming amount of these drivers retiring within the next 10-20 years, this problem looks set to increase if new, younger workers aren’t hired into the industry.

For many young people the perception of working in the industry is negative and steers people away from even considering a career as a truck driver. The sedentary lifestyle of many drivers, sleep deprivation resulting from working shift patterns and time away from family all deter younger applicants.

How is this affecting freight forwarding?

The impact has been considerably noticeable in the USA in recent months. US road freight shortages have been driving up prices over much of the last year and are likely to worsen as demand builds through the summer, further adding to inflationary costs for US forwarders. An increase of 25-30{1b1b9ce846acca1f39def03dae003274ac5660c9b015842d7bf5d85a3bcad6d8} year on year in rates was reported in May 2018.

In the UK, rates have not been impacted in the same way. The UK marketplace is extremely competitive and hauliers have absorbed the costs associated with increased demand. Hauliers have however recently added fuel surcharges to rates to counter their cost increase, but it is only a matter of time before the skills shortage also impacts costs.

How is the skills shortage problem being addressed?

Investment in skills will be crucial in creating a change to the manpower situation. Ideas including channelling funds for apprenticeships directly to transport firms has been suggested to the Government by the FTA. As well as creating incentives to take unskilled workers to upskill them to the next level. Engagement also needs to be addressed including raising awareness of the transport industry and improving its image in order to encourage young people to consider it for a career.

How PFE maintains a happy workforce

While the transport industry generally is suffering from driver shortages, we have high driver retention rates. Our drivers are the face of PFE and as such we know how valuable they are to our business. Our focus is on ensuring good planning so that our drivers have as little downtime possible and we take care of our drivers like we do any of our team. We are also looking into developing an apprenticeship scheme to offer younger people a career driving for PFE so watch this space!

Click here to read about one of our driver’s experience of working with PFE.

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