Lack of truck drivers: a new problem in the Old World
And again the futurists were wrong!
Several years ago, everyone was talking in unison about the total automation of cars. Trucks were to become one of the elements of this system, when the multi-ton camion will be controlled under the strict guidance of artificial intelligence. The idea of Platoon, or the technology of autonomous movement of convoys of trucks, seemed like a transitional technology five years ago. In fact, only the leading driver in the impromptu road train held the wheel - the rest on the adaptive cruise control moved in automatic mode.
The guys from MAN Truck & Bus a couple of years ago praised the test results of their own version of Platoon:
The drivers in such a convoy have not yet been abandoned, but they could stop for rest much less often, which means that they can deliver goods to their destination much faster.
What would a simple trucker think looking at this automated mess?
At the very least, he will not be happy about the imminent prospect of losing his job. When choosing a profession, young people will think seven times before applying for a truck driver's license - in the future there is a real opportunity to be left without income. And the work, frankly, is not easy. Even in the conditions of Europe and on the most modern high-tech equipment.
The surest way to get away from the problem in the EU countries was the services of guest workers, who, in the event of an “invasion robots” can be quickly sent home.
However, a fatal coincidence played a cruel joke with the truck drivers - they disappeared everywhere, and the saving Platoon and artificial intelligence did not appear anywhere in return.
The shortage is particularly acute in the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In aggregate, there is a shortage of up to 400 thousand professionals - the list includes drivers of delivery vans and truckers on trucks.
The problem began to manifest itself back in 2019, and it was associated with the aging of the driving fraternity in Europe. As mentioned above, young people are not particularly motivated to enter a difficult profession with an unstable future. And it’s not so simple with the elderly - many transport operators do not hire experienced drivers "over 45 and over", fearing spending on health insurance and high accidents.
At the same time, most of all, there is a shortage of truckers, whose work on a rotational basis is associated with great risks and elementary inconveniences. Many simply leave for intracity transportation with strictly defined working hours and less effort.
Contributed to the shortage of drivers and COVID-19, which has prevented many labor migrants from returning to jobs in closed Europe.
The British were less fortunate - the notorious Brexit actually expelled tens of thousands of guest workers from the country. Now on the islands the crisis of cargo transportation is the most acute. At gas stations, people fight for gasoline, food on the shelves becomes more expensive, and sometimes even disappears from the range. There is no one to deliver fuel to the consumer, no one even to import food from the continental part of Europe. Transport companies are frantically raising the salaries of the remaining drivers - in the Russian equivalent, it can go up to 300 thousand rubles and more.
Ahead is Christmas, without which the British will definitely start a food riot. Downing Street understands this and has already announced five thousand work visas for drivers with a salary of 6 thousand pounds. True, only for three months. There are very few people who are ready to "organize Christmas for the British", given the strict anti-cancellation rules for entry.
The desire is discouraged by the delays in obtaining a visa - after Brexit, it is not easy for even Europeans to get to the UK.
The initiative to simplify the procedure for issuing driving licenses for road trains of the CE and C1E categories looks less radical. This will undoubtedly increase the attractiveness of the profession, but in the medium term, and right now the UK lacks up to 100 thousand drivers.
The rest of the EU also needs to somehow solve the problem of the shortage of drivers, and this entails an outflow of professionals from Eastern to Western Europe. Now Poland is in a rather tight situation, from which several tens of thousands of truckers have left to work.
Russia is no exception
The shortage of personnel in the European transport system threatens to aggravate the situation in Russia.
For several years now, the profession of a truck driver has been in high demand in our country.
According to analysts' forecasts, until 2030, the situation will not be able to fundamentally change due to another demographic hole that has reduced the number of able-bodied male population. Now truck drivers are forced to work 12-16 hours a day with an average salary of 70 thousand rubles. Compare this with 300 thousand rubles in Europe and you will understand why Russian is so often heard in the EU in the parking lots of truckers.
Among the reasons for the deficit is the problem of a relatively high mortality rate of drivers of long-haul tractors. This is largely due to the dire condition of a large share of the road network in Russia. Regulators also did not hesitate to add additional road problems to professional chauffeurs. Some of the measures were to improve safety, for example, new rules for the work and rest of a trucker on a voyage. Others were introduced in order to increase the collection of taxes from the driver's community - the Plato system (not to confuse the domestic collection of payments from heavy trucks with the above-mentioned European system of autonomous driving by the Platoon column).
The new rules and restrictions ultimately reduce the attractiveness of FTL transportation (Full Truck Load - delivery with a full vehicle load or the market for intercity transportation by Euro trucks).
Since the beginning of the year, the number of available trucks of this class has decreased by 25%. Yesterday's truckers go to work in express delivery services on delivery trucks.
Why live for weeks in a long-haul tractor, if for a better salary they offer both a more convenient mode of operation and more comfort?
With a successful combination of circumstances on local transportation, yesterday's trucker can receive two to three times higher - up to 200-300 thousand rubles. If not, then Europeans on the local long-distance cargo transportation market will be quite happy with him.
As a result, in the Russian transport industry, we see a 56% increase in demand for cargo delivery, a simultaneous decrease in free trucks by 90 thousand vehicles. In response, the cost of transportation is growing (at least by 20% since the beginning of the year) and, accordingly, prices on store shelves.
The situation is similar in the United States, with a shortage of 60 drivers. And in neighboring Canada, where 40 thousand people are missing. Developing countries such as Turkey and Uzbekistan also suffer from a shortage of free trucks.
The problem is becoming more and more widespread every month and is poised to cause a serious rise in the price of goods around the world.
There are few recipes for a solution, and often they run into a banal increase in the salary of truckers. There are also thoughts of attracting women to the industry, lowering the retirement age for drivers and almost including teaching a specialty in the vocational school curriculum.
However, there is currently no coordinated program of action between business and government.
Apparently, everyone is waiting for 2022, in which the situation will worsen even more?
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