Tackling Europe’s driver shortage: collaborative solutions for a sustainable transport industry

During the ESC 2-day transport councils’ meeting in April 2024, ESC members together with the representatives from the European Commission and other stakeholders discussed the most urgent issues. One of them was the lack of drivers. 

With projections forecasting a deficit of over 745,000 drivers by 2028, the situation is reaching a critical point impacting the movement of goods and people and posing significant hurdles for companies across the continent. The shortage of drivers is a multifaceted issue, with demographic disparities and regulatory complexities exacerbating the problem.

In the past, European Shippers’ Council and International Road Transport Union have already signed a Charter on ‘Improving the treatment of drivers at delivery sites’. Initiatives improving working conditions at delivery sites have been launched, focusing on enhancing operational efficiency and the attractiveness of the profession. Signatories commit to common values, legal compliance, and mutual respect, inviting broader industry participation in these efforts.

During the discussion at the ESC’s councils’ meeting, Victoire Couëlle (IRU) underscored the heterogeneous nature of the shortage, emphasising the need:

  • to attract younger individuals;
  • to foster gender diversity by attracting more women to the profession;
  • to overcome barriers such as: high training costs, regulatory uncertainties, and inadequate infrastructure;
  • to increase safe and secure truck parking spaces.

To tackle the shortage effectively, a multifaceted approach is necessary. This includes providing clear regulations and support mechanisms to facilitate entry into the profession, aligning minimum ages for drivers across the EU, and modernising training programs to meet evolving industry needs. By implementing these strategic measures, ESC aims to alleviate the driver shortage crisis and ensure the sustainability of Europe’s transport industry.