For shipments within Europe, road transport is the most popular delivery option on the market. High speed, routing flexibility, and attractive costs make road transport one of the key engines of the European economy. However, the average age of drivers might make you question the prospects of this mode of transportation. According to projections from DSLV, the German Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Companies, 2/3 of drivers will retire over the next 15-20 years.
The elimination of obligatory military service which trained 15,000 German truck drivers per year, high costs of obtaining licenses, difficult working conditions, and long trips are only a few reasons there are fewer – and older – professional drivers on European road transport market.
Drivers’ average ages look discouraging across Europe. According to British media, there are 50 fewer drivers every day and their average age is 55. In Spain the situation is not much better, with 70% of drivers over 50 according to the Main State Traffic Administration, According to the German Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Companies, only one third of the country’s drivers are younger than 45. Poland needs 100,000 more drivers. The Dutch Labor Office reports that the country’s driver shortage is growing by 35% a year.
Natalia Iwanowa-Kolakowska, AsstrA EU Regional Deputy Director and France Region Country Manager, says:
“In France, as in all other European countries, there is the lack of drivers caused by the disproportion between young and retiring specialists. The main reasons behind this phenomenon are difficult working conditions and the high cost of getting licensed. Due to this situation, there is considerable migration of drivers between countries. Drivers from Central Europe are moving to Western Europe where pay rates are higher. Specialists from CIS countries make up for this deficit by moving to Central Europe. But even this labor migration cannot satisfy the entire demand for truck drivers. Drivers are rapidly aging and younger generations don’t want to work in this field. The only way for transport companies to plug this gap is to work with drivers from more distant countries. In Latvia, for example, companies have started bringing in specialists from the Philippines.”
For the next generation of European citizens, an opportunity to see the world and receive an above-average salary is not worth hard working conditions and being apart from from families for extended periods. Besides, the cost of getting licensed to drive trucks can reach even a few thousand euros. In order to protect their market positions and satisfy growing needs from clients, transport companies are ready to negotiate with potential employees and subsidize all visa application expenses for foreign specialists. However, they are looking for experienced workers with a driving license of the necessary type.
According to Vitali Eremenco, AsstrA Road Freight Transportation Department Deputy COO, AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG is handling the driver deficit well thanks to its reliable carrier partnerships, some of which are more than 20 years old.
“If one carrier cannot provide transport on a given trade lane, AsstrA’s specialist can talk to another partner. The introduction of new IT e.g. in our “Track & Trace” or “Supplier’s cabinet” programs allows the AsstrA team to monitor each stage of transportation. All new partners are thoroughly vetted. The Supplier Relationship Management Department runs background checks on each of them that cover information as to whether the company is active, their transport industry track record, possible debts, and current contact information. Documents and authorizations are also checked in order to make sure that the potential partner complies with the high standards set by AsstrA and its clients. Unfortunately, the driver shortage has resulted in more poorly qualified specialists on the market – and more fraudulent companies that steal cargo. At AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG, the safety of clients’ cargoes is a non-negotiable priority and does not depend on market conditions or any other external factors.