Is the truck driver an endangered species? At least it seems like that if we look at reports from many countries – all concluding that carrier companies have a hard time finding good truck drivers to hire. But, what’s the reason for this shortage of drivers? Of course, there is not one single answer to that, and besides, reasons differ from country to country and from region to region. However, I think that the solution to the problem is most certainly many-sided.
Who is responsible for re-filling with new drivers?
The strategies for regeneration of professional proficiency differ between countries. In some countries, authorities organise proper education – all paid by the government! – to provide the market with new generations of trained and licensed drivers. In other countries, an aspiring young driver-to-be must find and finance the start of a future driving career on his or her own. Yet, there seems to be a shortage of drivers a little here and there. Maybe the problem could be reduced if authorities and trading organisations join forces and align and facilitate for young students to choose and start a professional driving career.
Is professional driving prestigious enough?
First, we must conclude that professional driving of today requires much higher qualifications than just a few decades ago! Today’s vehicles and logistics operations are crammed with hi-tech and the driver needs to master complex systems and advanced technology. Yet, in many situations, professional driving is unrightfully regarded as a low-status job.
Driving should always be considered a responsible and advanced profession. This could eventually gain the job the status it deserves. If the job is considered prestigious enough, it will attract more aspirants.
Is new technology an obstacle to some?
The increasing use of advanced technology might make some drivers ask themselves if an engineering degree is required for the job. This advanced technology involved will most certainly put off some. For example, many experienced and very skilled drivers feel unconfident having to master all new systems, software and devices. As a result, they may lose confidence – and quit. It’s a shame when driving skills and competence is lost for this reason. One solution to this problem could be to let drivers adapt to new technologies at their individual pace, thus not losing self-confidence. However, how this could be achieved is a matter of training, pedagogy and administration.
Should I stay or should I go?
Whether a newbie looking for the first job or an experienced driver, working conditions are key for well-being. Accordingly, employers’ efforts to improve well-being will attract new drivers as well as keep the current staff happy. There are many ways to improve working conditions and well-being, for example increase driver’s convenience. Some do this by installing soda fridges and coffee machines in the cabs. Others do it by installing automatic snow chains as this increases convenience as well as safety and others do it by having flexible working arrangements.
Irrespective of coffee machines, automatic snow chains or flexible working arrangements, all are signals to the driver: “You are valuable to us!”
Making the driver feel appreciated and valuable will make him do a good job – and make him think twice before looking for another job or career.
-"It´s all about creating added value for the drivers. With our arrangement they can plan and feel secure; that is important for the drivers because they then have time for their families and leisure activities." Christian Bilde, MD of Glimåkra Åkeri AB, Sweden (Quote from the eBook: The Guide to improving fleet productivity)
There are other things you as a fleet manager could consider in order to attract drivers and improve profitability in your firm. We have made a minor research and asked some successfull fleet managers what they are doing in order to keep their business on track and adding value for the drivers. In the eBook "The Guide to improving fleet productivity", we share the stories we have received from fleet managers in northern Europe and the USA.