By John Manners-Bell

May 22nd 2019

Ti-Insight’s Chief Executive, John Manners-Bell, recently addressed the Girteka Client Day in Copenhagen, speaking to an audience of logistics and supply chain professionals drawn from some of Europe’s largest manufacturers and retailers.


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In my speech, I highlighted one of the major challenges facing the European Road Freight industry, that is driver shortages. According to the IRU, 1 in 5 of driving vacancies is currently unfilled, leading to higher costs for operators, customers, as well as lower quality services.

I put it to the audience that there were many reasons why not enough drivers were being attracted to the industry: perception of the job as being low paid in comparison to other sectors, the increasing cost of training to pass the LGV test, poor working conditionings including lack of truck stops and basic welfare conditions, lack of security and the notion that drivers were unpaid security guards, a work life balance incompatible with the needs of the new generation of workers, alternative, more flexible and local driver jobs in the on demand or personal mobility sectors and finally, poor public perception of the industry overall.

Many of these issues have been factors in putting women off joining the industry, and they make up just 2% of the driver workforce. This is essentially restricted recruitment to only half of the available pool of labour. I went on to say that the industry was undertaking many initiatives to address some of these problems, and I commended Girteka for its commitment to driver welfare, which has consequently led to low turnover in drivers. Other initiatives being undertaken by the industry include focussing on recruitment from the armed forces. I also went on to say that national governments have a rule to play and called on legislation to make it much easier to develop lorry parks. Also, the provision for more money for training and overall, the better awareness in schools. However, much more will have to be done to address the long term and systemic inefficiency of the industry to better utilise existing vehicle capacity. Statistics suggest that on average, trucks are 2/5th empty at any one time and totally empty 30% of the time. Improvements can only be achieved by digitising many processes and digital freight market platforms will play an important role in this respect, autonomous connected trucks will also transform the industry, not by replacing the driver, at least not in the next 20 years or so, but by assisting them, making the job less stressful, and safer.