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NatRoad calls for action on critical truckie shortages

A survey conducted by NatRoad and the IRU has found a critical driver shortage is placing Australia’s supply chain in danger

The National Transport Road Association (NatRoad) has called on the National Cabinet to immediately address significant driver shortages in the Australian trucking industry and believes a continuation of the current trend could prove to be catastrophic for the nation’s economy and supply chain.

A recent survey conducted by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) in partnership with NatRoad concluded there are critical driver shortages across all business types and size in the domestic trucking sector – from owner-operators through to large fleet managers.

CEO of NatRoad Warren Clark says the critical issue plaguing the trucking industry should be of national concern.

“This is not just a crisis for the trucking industry, it’s a crisis for the national economy,” Clark says.

“We’re seeing a huge gap in the number of drivers required and the downstream impact on our supply chain 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 national job vacancy rate of between five and six per cent.”

Outside of the challenges represented by the significant shortfall in driver availability, the survey also found emerging demographic issues, with almost 50 per cent of truck drivers over the age of 55 and an average industry age of 49 years.

Just 5.2 per cent of drivers are under the age of 25, while just 6.5 per cent are women.

Clark says these figures indicate a critical need to attract a younger, more diverse workforce.

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

“We need to develop incentive programs that equip new drivers with the 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 overall working conditions, especially for those in the industry already.

“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.

“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.”

NatRoad has been provided the preliminary Australian results of the survey. Further detailed data will come in August.

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