In June 2022, after surveying more than 1,500 commercial road transport operators in 25 countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe, IRU released its 2022 Global Driver Shortage Report, which found that the sector is missing over 2.6 million professional drivers.
In Europe, driver shortages jumped by 42% from 2020 to 2021, with vacant driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK. In Mexico, shortages rose by 30% to reach 54,000, while in China, they increased by 140%, reaching 1.8 million.
Commenting on the report’s findings, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said, “Chronic commercial driver shortages are getting worse, with millions of positions remaining unfilled.
This is putting already stressed economies and communities at higher risk of inflation, social mobility issues and supply chain meltdowns.”
“Road transport operators are doing their part, but governments and authorities need to maintain focus, especially to improve parking infrastructure, training access, and encourage more women and young people into the profession,” added Umberto de Pretto.
The report showed that women are still not in the driving seat. Less than 3% of truck drivers are women in all regions, with notable exceptions in China (5%) and the US (8%). The rate of female bus and coach drivers in Europe is better at 12%. However, these rates are all still well below transport sector norms, especially in Europe (with the notable exception of the Netherlands) and the US, respectivelly, where 22% and 28% of all transport workers are women.
There is also a demographic timebomb.
Young drivers under 25 remain a small minority, at 6 or 7% of the truck driver population, in most regions. On the other hand, there are between two and five times more older drivers over 55 in all regions, except in China and Mexico.
In the US and Europe, older drivers make up around one third of the workforce. Europe has the highest average driver age at 47.
The widening age gap is more serious for passenger transport.
In Europe, only 3% of bus and coach drivers are under 25, half the rate of the overall transport sector.
Drivers over 55 constitute 32% of the workforce, with an average driver age of 50.