Looming Truck Driver Shortage in Europe

So, you may have seen what is happening in the UK with the truck drivers, there ain’t enough of them…

Out of the few jobs that I tried to do in recent years was work for a trucking company. I have seen the treatment of the drivers first hand, got angry and left. I was specifically tasked with recruitment and management of Ukrainian migrant workers, and I am not surprised nobody wants to do it.

In Britain, the situation with truckers became exacerbated because post-Brexit rules do not allow easy recruitment of drivers from the continent. The Covid pandemic also halted the issuing of new licenses. However, my first comment was that we Czechs are also not safe from such a situation because the share of foreign work force is also very high in our country.

I do not have the exact statistics for the Czech Republic but here I read in the Ukrainian online newspaper Strana that in Lithuania, 80% of truckers hail from Ukraine and Belarus. Most of the natives doing this are old guys, who don’t know any better. This is the most unhealthy situation ever if one thinks that it is the truckers that bring necessities such as food and fuel, and the whole system could come crashing down if knocked a little, as happened in the UK.

The root of the problem is that driving a truck is a skill that requires training. That training is time consuming and in some countries very costly. There isn’t much of a return on investment for the drivers. The employers tend to be rather predatory and seek ways to penalize the drivers over, often contrived transgressions, such as they would accuse the drivers of stealing fuel, or causing damage on the cars, although the damage was already there when they boarded the truck.

Similar shit is keeping most of the population from entering the industry. Many of my friends in my village have a license to drive a truck but all of them work in a state company that manages the river. Many of the private businessmen are crooks. Like my former boss, I later found out he was prosecuting for tax fraud scheme with chemicals. This taught me to always get references for an employer before taking a job.

The job is difficult, tying, and you are not always able to take a shower or have hot meal. So what is the solution? In the short term there must be an easing of entry into the business without compromising the quality. Perhaps the government could subsidize the applicants. Reward them for getting the licence. On the part of the employers, better conditions of work, stable pay, stability in general. And in the long term, increased automation of the trucks. I personally do not think the latter will remove the need for a man inside the car. Cargo needs protection.

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