The pandemic world is leaving imprints never known to several Western generations. Said of a Mcdonalds without soda, for example, as happened last week in United Kingdom, with more than 1,300 establishments affected. “Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some problems in the supply chain, which affects the availability of a small number of products,” the fast food company explained in a statement. It is the reality that the labor expelled after Brexit has left in that country, but that also haunts the rest of the major European economies. Because the pressing deficit of truckers and carriers, which has ended up exploding with a crisis in the supply chain,
threatens to cut across all of Europe, including Spain, where the road transport sector has been warning the problem for more than a decade.
But it has been in 2021, with the pandemic as a trigger, when it has truly become a dilemma for distribution and the consumer, also in full swing of ‘ecommerce’. The alarm was raised last June by the International Road Transport Association (Astic), during its general assembly. “If the lack of professional drivers in our country continues to grow, in the next decade we will lose more than a third of our workforce. We must remedy this problem, as well as the excessive bureaucracy and regulatory pressure that suffocates the sector, “said its president, Marcos Basante.
It is also revealed by International Road Transport Organization (IRU), European transport employers’ association, which estimated the loss of professional drivers in 2020 for all of Europe at 25%, in addition to pointing out Spain as one of the territories in which the professional gap will increase the most this year, specifically 150%.
20% of uncovered places
“With the current demand, among the professionals who are retiring and leaving the sector, and those that we are incorporating, we are going to miss about 15,000 carriers in Spain this five years. Currently, around 20% of the places offered for professional drivers are not covered and in 2030 we will lose a third of our drivers», The CEO of Astic, Ramón Valdivia, radiography to ABC.
“There is a shortage of drivers of trailers, ‘megatrucks’, dangerous goods, construction trucks and also for delivery vans”, laments the president of the Logistics and Transportation Business Organization (UNO), Francisco Aranda, who urges to promote measures from the public sector “before it is too late and the logistics chain is tightened to the maximum and delays may occur.”
As in so many other sectors, transport also asks how it is possible not to find labor when in Spain there is currently more than one 38% youth unemployment (unemployment among those under 25 years of age) and the fifteen% of the workforce are unemployed.
The sector has been asking the Administration for support to attract professionals to the road. For this they have demanded to eliminate the economic barrier – training for heavy vehicles can cost up to 6,000 euros– and promote the arrival of young jobs in the sector through dual vocational training. «We need the support of society in general. This country is an export power and the 66% of those goods goes by truck. Putting obstacles in the way of road transport is damaging Spain’s competitiveness, ”says Valdivia.
From UNO they explain that they sent a letter to the Ministry of Transport urging it to implement a plan to promote the activity of the carrier in which, in addition to training, they also ask for measures to dignify the profession “such as the improvement of rest areas” , explains Aranda.
Without generational change
At Molinero Logistics, a Soria transport company with a fleet of 800 trucks, they have no staff under 25 years of age. In Europe, only 5% of drivers are under that age. “ANDThe average age range in our workforce is alarming. It reaches 50 years. In five years this will be a hecatomb. We have lived off professionals from Eastern Europe, but that source has been exhausted and the pandemic has limited the arrival of South Americans, ”says CEO Javier Jiménez Omeñaca.
They also watch him uneasily from the Racing Group, one of the most important nationwide with more than 200 million turnover per year. “The average age of those we get is increasing and there is no generational change,” says its director of operations, Carlos Escalada, who abounds in that the problem is aggravated when looking for employees for discretionary transport.
Jiménez Omeñaca explains that 2021 is being the last straw, with many drivers from Eastern Europe, most of their staff, who have left of their own free will for their countries throughout the summer, after a year of pandemic where they have been unable to return to their places of origin. In total, they already accumulate more than one hundred trucks stopped throughout the group. «We have left orders unattended. This is the worst exercise in our history in service to our customers ”, adds the businessman, who assures that on many occasions delivery delays exceed 24 hours.
Loss of attractiveness
For the sector, the problem lies in the loss of attractiveness with regard to the recruitment of new professionals. Especially from Spaniards, who according to sectoral calculations barely represent 20% of workers throughout the country.
Professionals in the sector also focus on making drivers regain purchasing power. «Today you deduct a driver’s allowances and the salary is the same as that of any driver», Says Jiménez. In relation to wages, the employer explains that the need for drivers has indeed benefited the workers.
“With the current situation, drivers have many offers in the market and we have had to raise their wages to retain them. There comes a time when it is unsustainable, in the sector profit margins are low. All this translates into cost increases for companies, which are already passed on to customers and, consequently, to the consumer. In addition, with the aggravating factor of the rise in diesel.
In the Carreras Group they have also got down to work and are taking the same measures and also point to the increase in prices in subcontracting due to the loss of companies in the sector due to the pandemic. In addition, Escalada explains that this has been added lack of new trucks in the market due to the shortage of chips, which has the production lines in check worldwide. At Carreras, 50 trucks are expected at the end of the year, “although we will have problems finding drivers to start them up,” they resign from the company.