In France, nearly a hundred thousand jobs are still vacant, even though the unemployment rate is estimated at 7.8%. This labor shortage has never been more obvious than in the wake of Covid-19. It is affecting many industries worldwide, especially the trucking industry. Yes, the trucking industry is not as popular as it used to be! This unfortunate and worrisome fact highlights a rather delicate problem that needs to be addressed. We speak about it in this article.
Has the truck driving profession really gone out of fashion?
Sadly, the answer is yes. According to a 2019 survey, truck driver is among the not-so-flattering top 5 least attractive jobs. And the problem is not just in France. Thomas Larrieu, CEO of Upply, a company specializing in freight price analysis and digital solutions, says that in 2017 there was a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers in the U.S. compared to the 80,000 needed today.
There are some other figures we can give you. For example, a report by Transport Intelligence, a consulting firm, pointed out last August that the European trucking industry is reportedly short by about 400,000 drivers. That’s about 20% of the current workforce. Judge for yourself how big that gap is!
Let’s face it: young people no longer dream of being a truck driver. For the time being, this shortage of human resources is not having a significant impact on the health of companies. However, the economic recovery that is underway in 2022 could change things. We could then witness serious supply chain problems.
What is the reason for this shortage?
One of the main reasons for the shortage is the working conditions that drivers are subjected to. Think about it: you have to work almost 56 hours a week, getting up at 5 a.m. without even knowing in advance what time you’ll be back. This kind of responsibility makes family life very difficult.
Additionally, the salaries are not really encouraging new people to enter the profession. Most of the time, they do not go beyond the minimum wage. This poor wage level is largely due to the social dumping maneuvers that trucking companies often resort to. When you consider this aspect and the fact that you have to work long and exhausting hours, there is little incentive to join the industry.
Following the example of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, French employers have decided to take action on wage levels. Several negotiations are underway with social partners. If they are successfully concluded, we will probably see an increase in minimum wages of up to 5% this year. This is already a good start.
Recruiting more young people and women: a major challenge
Raising wages is not the only issue for large carriers. They also need to attract a younger workforce, especially women. In fact, only 2% of truck drivers in Europe are women, while in the United States the percentage is as high as 11%. By working to convince women to enter the profession, it may be possible to mitigate this shortage.