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Kierowca prowadzący ciężarówkę - PRILO

Lack of drivers as another challenge in the transport industry – causes and alternative solutions

>A lack of drivers has become one of the most noticeable problems of the transport industry in recent years. The demographic crisis, tightened regulations, as well as increasingly demanding requirements from employers have led to a lack of drivers on the labour market. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in the sector’s competitiveness and an increase in the costs of maintaining the vehicle fleet. It is estimated that there is a shortage of 80,000 to even 150,000 professional drivers in Poland. In this article, we will take a closer look at the causes and possible solutions to this problem.

Lack of drivers on the labour market – reasons

  • demographic crisis
  • significant changes in the law
  • high employee and employer demands
  • lack of adequate promotion of the driver’s profession
  • generational change – different expectations of current employees
  • low prestige and attractiveness of the driver’s profession
  • development of new transport sectors
  • high qualification costs

It is difficult to point out one main reason why there is a shortage of drivers on the labour market. This is related to the demographic crisis and broadly understood social changes. The driver’s profession is not perceived as an attractive and future-oriented career path. Many people also claim that the responsibility and stress associated with their work is disproportionate to the salary.

How much does a truck driver earn?

While the method of calculating the professional driver’s working time may seem complicated, the salaries in the transport industry are at a decent level. The changes introduced by the Mobility Package aim to unify driver salaries in various European countries. However, there are still some obvious differences. Drivers can count on the best salary in Germany, Sweden and France. The median monthly salary for truck drivers in these countries oscillates around PLN 10-13 thousand gross. This is one of the reasons why Polish drivers decide to emigrate for better work opportunities.

Truck driver salaries in Poland

The amount a truck driver earns in Poland depends on his experience, length of service in one company, achievements, scope of duties, knowledge of foreign languages, qualifications, technical knowledge about trucks or even routes for which he is directed. The median monthly truck driver salary in Poland is PLN 5,440 gross, with over 25% of drivers earning over PLN 7,250 gross. However, the basis of remuneration under the contract very often differs from the real earnings of drivers who are entitled to non-contributory allowances and bonuses. The lack of drivers on the labour market means that when they apply for a job, they are in a strong position to negotiate their salary.

Professional driver shortage – alternative solutions to the problem

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, in many cases, we only notice the problem once it occurs. A similar fate befell the transport industry. Market analysts and specialists pointed to the possibility of a lack of drivers over a decade ago. However, there was a lack of initiatives that could prevent this from happening. Now it is far too late to completely save the situation. However, steps are being taken to minimize the crisis.

Driver training and courses

One of the ways to deal with the lack of professional drivers is to organize training and courses for drivers. Very often, these initiatives are financed from government and EU funds, thanks to which the inhabitants of villages and smaller towns can obtain the appropriate certificates for “free”. This usually entails fulfilling specific criteria, which aim to eliminate differences between individuals seeking employment. Usually it is age, place of residence or lack of education. Information on funded courses can be found at the employment office or foundations delivering EU social programs.

Promoting the driver’s profession

Unfortunately, this issue is still largely neglected. In recent years, there has been a generational and civilizational change. Many people are looking for remote work. Young people dream of a job related to social media, or becoming a programmer. There are no initiatives that would promote the driver’s profession in Poland and encourage people to choose such a professional path.

On top of that, drivers are usually presented in a distorted way in the internet, as blocking both lanes on the motorway or performing dangerous manoeuvres on public roads. The public space lacks a positive message regarding road transport, which indirectly affects the lack of drivers on the labour market.

Cooperating with educational institutions

Collaboration with universities and vocational schools can contribute to the interest of younger generations in working in the transport industry. Companies can support educational programs dedicated to future drivers, offering, for example, internships or apprenticeships. In addition, educational institutions may introduce modern curricula adapted to the needs of the labour market, taking into account, among others, new technologies used in transport.

Another good solution is sponsoring competitions and educational projects, involving young people in creative activities aimed at searching for innovative solutions for the industry. This way, future drivers have the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience, gain knowledge about how the transport sector functions and establish business contacts that may contribute to their further professional development in the future.

Will foreign employees turn out to be the solution to the lack of professional drivers in Poland?

Many Polish professional drivers are employed in German companies that offer better pay conditions. On a similar basis, more and more truck drivers from Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia are coming to Poland. Market research also shows an influx of foreign drivers from more exotic destinations such as Nepal, Vietnam and India.

Data from the International Transport Office indicates that there are 35,000 new drivers for every 25,000 Polish drivers resigning from their profession. These statistics may look good, but in order to meet the current demand, this trend would have to continue for at least 10 years, while there is a dire need for drivers right now.

Professional driver shortage in Poland – a summary

The shortage of drivers is a challenge that the transport industry will have to face for several more years. It is up to us how quickly we can overcome this crisis. It is worth approaching the subject in a comprehensive manner – from promotional activities, through education, to increasing the availability of funded courses and training for drivers. The unemployment rate in our country has been decreasing in recent years. Paradoxically, the lack of workers in Poland became even more noticeable during this period. Therefore, it is worth taking initiatives aimed developing and promoting the transport industry.