The logistics community has been discussing the shortage of professional drivers for quite a long time. The recent statistics figures show that the current situation is not just a temporary difficulty but a developing negative trend.Maxim Ziziuk, the Head of the Road transport department of TELS Group of Companies
Here are some statistics data:
• Around 70% of truck drivers in Spain are over 50 years old (Spain’s Directorate-General of Traffic).
• At year-end 2016, only one third of German drivers with class C or C + E license were under 45 years old; around 66% of truck drivers will leave the profession within 15 years (German Association for Freight Forwarding and Logistics).
• In the UK, the shortage of drivers is increasing at a rate of 50 people a day; the average age of truck drivers is 55 years old (The Sun newspaper).
• In Poland, 100,000 drivers are missing; most truck drivers are 45-50 years old (PwC consulting agency).
The flow-in of young drivers is decreasing
According to PwC, the number of class C or C + E licenses issued in Poland in 2006 totaled around 300 thousand against only 48 thousand in 2011.
After the abolition of men’s military service by Bundeswehr in 2011, the flow-in of young drivers in Germany reduced – about 15 thousand people learnt to drive in the army annually.
One of the reasons why young people in Europe choose other professions is the high cost required to become an international driver and difficult working conditions. For example, driving courses in Poland cost about 2 thousand euros (8.5 thousand zł).
The flow-in of drivers in Russia is also decreasing. The number of drivers with class C license decreased to 106,400 in 2017 against 124,600 in 2016, the number of drivers with class D license decreased to 37,900 in 2017 against 42,300 in 2016.
Another reason for the low interest of young drivers in the profession is the development of self-driving technology. Uber, Waymo, Starsky Robotics and other companies are already testing self-driving trucks. Self-driving cars are unlikely to replace drivers in the next 10 years, but taking into consideration the demand in the profession in future young people will choose more reliable spheres of activity.
Migration is not the way out any more
West European companies have become used to solving the problem with drivers by means of driver’s migration from East European countries. For instance, Polish drivers are actively moving to Germany, where their salary is 1.5 times higher. At the same time, drivers from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus are migrating to Poland.
However, according to the statistics data this resource is already running low.
About 20% of transport companies in Poland experience constant shortage of drivers, 60% say about periodic difficulties.
An acute shortage of drivers is also registered in Lithuania. According to the labour agency, 13,000 foreign citizens were employed in Lithuania in 2016, 87% of them were hired as truck drivers
Based on the data of the Belarusian State Employment Agency, driver vacancies exceeded the number of job seekers three times in Belarus in December 2017.
New schemes of cargo theft
The criminal world is developing new schemes of cargo theft in the current conditions.
Until recently, the main schemes of cargo theft were: a) the creation of logistics bubble companies, b) the acquisition of bona fide transport companies by bubble companies. These carriers continued their activity until they received a large consignment of expensive fast-moving cargo after which the cars and the goods disappeared.
These are the latest news from the European Union – immigrant drivers started stealing cargoes from their employers. Faced with the shortage of drivers, transport companies are forced to hire not only inexperienced but also not very reliable staff.
Fraudsters benefit from this situation.
A real case example. A customer asked a reliable Polish company with whom they had worked successfully for a long time to deliver fast moving cargoes. The contractor entrusted two Ukrainian drivers, who had been working in the company for 1.5 months by that time, with the transportation of the goods. Shortly after loading, the GPS signal from on-board devices was lost, and the drivers stopped any communication. In this case, managers’ awareness allowed to react quickly to suspicious factors and prevent the fraudsters from going far away. However, this not a single issue, we hear of similar successful theft cases regularly.
Cargo safety in new conditions
The principles underlying the selection and admission of transport companies for cooperation require constant adjustments and additions. In particular, TELS updates their Instruction regulating the admission of contractors (road carriers) for transportation of goods annually. The instruction is executed by specialists working with transport companies at the level of business processes supported by the system of program and organizational control.
We cannot share the details of this instruction in order not to give out all the milestones and reduce the effectiveness of the selection. We can only say that a contractor is checked at all levels from the conformity of documents with the approved samples of the home country on down to information verification of the reputation. The signs of a rogue structure may be the following:
• the information in the provided documents is different from the information received from our information sources;
• absence of any activity history;
• there has been a change of ownership and activity during the past 1.5-2 years;
• the company has a mass registration address;
• there is no web-site; or the web-site is suspicious (created recently, filled poorly, absence of a developer, etc.);
• there is no fixed telephone service; the telephone number specified in the documents belongs to a third-party (dispatcher) or does not exist;
and many other signs; there are over 20 positions helping identify rogue companies.
It’s been a while since the requirements for contractor’s long experience in transportation of fast-moving cargoes have become obligatory.
A new important factor ensuring transportation safety today is that transport companies must possess all the required technical and organizational means providing continuous cargo tracking.
Not only drivers are missing
The shortage of qualified truck drivers has already led to an increase in their market value. According to the research by GorodRabot.ru, the salaries of truck drivers in Russia increased by approx. 11% from February to March 2018.
However, the logistics industry is lacking not only drivers but also experienced managers. Last year on the sidelines of TransPoland exhibition, one of the representatives of a leading Polish on-line staff portal predicted a general shortage of qualified staff in the logistics industry in Europe in the next three years amounting to 250 thousand people.
As a result prices for logistics services are likely to increase. To support this prediction, Hermes Germany and GO! Express & Logistics companies have already announced the increase of rates for transportation services by 4-4.5% explaining this measure by the necessity to invest in their employees.
The article uses information from the following sources: transinfonews.by, telsgroup.ru, ati.su, edurobots.ru