Truck driver shortage expected to double by 2028

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 24, 2023

A new report is predicting the global truck driver shortage to double by 2028.

The report, from Switzerland-based International Road Transport Union, says age and gender gaps are continuing to grow ever wider, with 12% of drivers aged below 25 and just 6% being women.

The report found that truck driver shortages increased globally in 2023, with two notable exceptions: shortages eased slightly in 2023 in Europe and the United States, due to softer transport demand as a result of inflation and tighter monetary policy limiting consumption and investment.

Without action to attract and retain drivers, more than 7 million truck driver positions could be unfilled by 2028 in the surveyed countries, including 4.9 million in China (20% of total positions), 745,000 in Europe (17% of total positions), and 200,000 in Türkiye (28% of total positions).

The results came from a survey of over 4700 trucking companies in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, representing 72% of global GDP.

The problem is already impacting businesses, as at least 50% of road transport operators said they have serious problems hiring skilled drivers.Many are also unable to expand their business and are losing existing clients and revenues.

“The structural issues behind truck driver shortages are continuing to impact transport services,” said IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto.

“With the rate of newcomers being significantly lower than drivers retiring every year, urgent action is needed now.”

To address the gulf, governments need to facilitate access to the profession by lowering the minimum driving age and by subsidising qualification costs, IRU said. That’s because the “school-to-wheel” gap is a key challenge facing the industry, with the minimum driving age for international freight transport stuck between 21 and 26 in some countries. Also, high training, licence, and insurance costs make it expensive to become a truck driver.

“The consequences of such a shortage are already harming the communities, supply chains, and economies that depend on our industry,” de Pretto said.

“We cannot allow driver shortages to get any worse. Operators are doing their part, but governments and authorities need to increase efforts to improve working conditions and access to the profession.”