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‘Looming crisis’ as industry continues to struggle with driver shortages

With the results of a new survey demonstrating significant driver shortages across the trucking industry, NatRoad says the time to act is now.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) is calling on National Cabinet to immediately address the “looming crisis for the nation’s economy and supply chain”.

“This is not just a crisis for the trucking industry, it’s a crisis for the national economy,” said Warren Clark, CEO of NatRoad.

“We’re seeing a huge gap in the number of drivers required and the downstream impact on our supply chain and our country is significant.

“Over 26,000 drivers are needed to fill the current gaps in our sector, with big fleet operators the most impacted. When there is a need for around 180,000 drivers for an effective sector, this represents a 14.4 per cent shortfall, well over the current national job vacancy rate of between 5 and 6 per cent.”

These figures come from an Australian survey conducted by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) in partnership with NatRoad.

Results show critical driver shortages across all business sizes and types in the trucking sector, from owner-operators through to large fleet managers.

With a large portion of drivers nearing retirement age, the trucking industry is also facing a challenge in attracting young people. The survey found almost 50 per cent of all drivers were over the age of 55, with an average age of 49.

To add, the participation of young people and women in the industry is very low, with 5.2 per cent of drivers under 25 and just 6.5 per cent being women. NatRoad said these figures indicated a critical need to attract a younger and more diverse workforce.

“We are expecting the NSW road freight requirements to increase by 57.1 per cent by 2040, so we must act now to secure our supply chain,” said Clark.

“The survey results underscore the urgent need for National Cabinet to explore measures to secure the national supply chain.

“We need to develop incentive programs that make the trucking industry more appealing to young people and women, while encouraging current operators to continue their careers.”

NatRoad says this includes investing in training programs that equip new drivers with necessary skills, improving career pathways into the industry, including better access to apprenticeships and traineeships, and focusing on increasing the number of young and female drivers.

“We must also improve the quality and competency of training and licensing and enhance their overall working conditions, especially for those in the industry already,” Clark continued.

“This means addressing issues such as non-safety related fines, improving the quality and quantity of rest areas, and recognising the essential role of truck drivers by treating them with respect, including at customer depots and delivery sites.

“The supply chain is the backbone of our economy, and without enough drivers, the entire system is at risk. We need immediate action from the government to prevent further disruption.”

9 Comments

  1. Why would you work in transport fines bigger than weeks wages do over time fines come your way guilty till you prove innocent none stop harassment by review chaccers

    1. You’re right I drove over twenty years and I’m not 50 yet. There is no way I would do it again. I had my own transport business for ten years. Not getting paid is bad enough but the compliance bullshit nightmare is worse

    2. I don’t believe there is a shortage of truck drivers.
      All over Australia there are owner drivers and small transport companies looking for freight.
      If people wanting to move freight looked beyond the multi million dollar, multi national, transport companies they would have no trouble getting their product moved.

  2. If the fines for work diaries mistakes and over speeds weren’t so heavy , might attract more drivers, certainly puts a damper on wanting to drive for a living when you cop a fine of $500 for being half an hour over in your book through an honest mistake or the wrong date or something.

  3. It’s basic supply and demand, same as nurses and other shortages of “key workers” if you pay the right wages i.e. more ,you’ll fill any shortfalls, might also help encourage new drivers if we stop the fantasy of driverless trucks any time in the near future

  4. There have been a lot of changes in the industry that affect drivers over the last 30 years. If you want to attract/train skilled drivers that stick around maybe it’s time to pay them accordingly (usually the cheapest component of the supply chain)

    1. Of course the larger companies are having trouble getting quality drivers. They have a department of clowns that have no clue about truck driving making stupid rules that their drivers have to abide by. Then they buy awful trucks and expect to fill them with decent experienced drivers, a fleet of red Mercedes for example, then when that fails they advertise for drivers and in their add say “we will pick you up from the airport and get you settled then once you get the approval to drive you will have a job” and they think decent experienced drivers with decades of experience will work there too. Yeah nah they couldn’t pay this little duck enough to put up with those conditions

  5. Just like everything else in Australia, is a bureaucratic nightmare. A system designed by bureaucrats for self ingratiation and satisfaction and to force compliance on the rest of us for regulations no one asked for.

  6. I live in Perth and I wonder if there really is a driver shortage here. I contacted Centurion TPT but they felt because I haven’t driven a road train since 2016 I was unsuitable? They asked if I would be willing to show them if I could reverse a dolly and hook up a trailer. When I said when can I do this they declined? However seeing their operators most are from overseas?
    I was offered a job it was advertised as a family life style home every night five days a week. But you start at 3am finish at 6pm? Then drive home and try to get some sleep. Now with companies like this is it any wonder they cannot keep operators. Just imagine running the Nullarbor Gaunlent not knowing if the driver heading towards you is focused and is an experienced operator?

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