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Driver availability is impacting the transport industry and Australian society (Part one)

Has the view of “without truck drivers, Australia stops” lost its impact on everyday Australians? Apparently so, according to Volvo Group Australia. The manufacturer of heavy vehicles in Australia, along with many of manufacturers and businesses, are noticing a looming problem with professional truck drivers. There simply isn’t enough of them.

Volvo Group Australia, along with advertising agency Clemenger BBDO, has conducted qualitative and quantitative research into the availability of professional truck drivers, surveying nearly 600 industry representatives, who collectively employ 34,000 truck drivers across Australia. The data from the report: Professional Truck Driver Shortage: How driver availability impacts the transport industry & Australian society is enlightening and highlights the very real problem of society’s negative perception of the trucking industry, along with the urgency to engage young people to take up the trade.

Increasing demand + fewer drivers = Australia stops moving forward

Those of us in the trucking and heavy transport trailer industry understand the increasing demands of road freight transport and its relation to the growth, prosperity and welfare of Australia. As a large country with a dispersed population, it’s only natural that we would heavily rely on our road systems for non-bulk domestic freight. In fact, around 75% of freight is transported throughout major hubs, growing regional areas, rural and remote communities.

The demand for freight services is only set to increase as societies attitude to the instantaneous, flexible and straightforward delivery of local and international products increases. Despite the demand reliance on road freight transport, the industry is suffering from severe driver shortages, as well as a diversity and image problem.

The industry sample of Australian truck drivers

The report states that the industry will need to increase by 150% to keep up with pressures and the loss of retiring drivers. Currently, the average age of a truck driver is 47, only 15% are under 30 and only 24% of the companies surveyed employed a female truck driver.

Where are all the drivers?

46% of all business owners surveyed are experiencing a driver shortage right now. It was quickly identified that not only is it difficult to get more drivers, but also find quality drivers. In fact, 82% of them are experiencing issues in attracting the quality of drivers expected.

Given that there is no set course typically travelled to gain employment in truck driving, attracting young school leavers has proven a challenging task, especially as many of them cannot start driving trucks until they are 25. Many respondents agreed with this issue, with one saying, “it is hard to bring young drivers into a business now and bring them up through the ranks because most trucking companies no longer have small trucks which are where young drivers normally start their career.”

On this, it was suggested that transitional jobs, particularly in mechanics, involve training to help bridge the gap between truck driving and easing restrictions on insurance and excess limits could increase hiring opportunities.

Other issues raised by respondents commented on the lack of diversity as a wide-spread systemic issue as well as the long working hours, physicality or the job, and outdated perceptions of truck drivers in Australia.

In our second part, we’ll look at the issue of driver image and solutions for the future including initiatives the Volvo Group is hoping to implement.

The Drake Group fully support Australian truck drivers and operators of heavy equipment trailers in their plight to encourage more drivers into the industry. As manufacturers of heavy transport trailers, we understand the importance of education and training of a diverse work group and have on-site apprenticeships in place to empower innovative workers of the future. To learn more about our heavy haulage trailers, check out our range or get in contact with us today.

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