Australia’s transport industry, particularly in relation to long haul drivers is facing a labor shortage crisis, with a rapidly aging workforce and low rates of younger persons entering into the industry.
The forecasting below shows nearly half the current workforce will be over 65 by 2026 (source: see footnotes)
At A Glance
- The average age of a truck driver is 44.3 years as compared to the average for occupations overall 39 years. (1)
- The age of the average truck driver has increased more rapidly than the age of the average worker due to fewer young workers entering the industry.
- Current long haul drivers are looking towards an early retirement due to the physical demands of the job and the time away from home.
- In the next 12 months over 12% of the current long haul driver workforce will walk away from the industry.
- The Labour Force Survey (ABS, 2008) indicates that employment in the road transport industry throughout Australia has been growing at a similar rate to other industries. Meaning that;
- The demand for truck drivers will increase as industries that rely on trucking services continue to grow. By 2020, the gap between the supply and demand of drivers is expected to be 15,000;
- This is cause for concern, not just for the trucking industry, but for its customers, the Australian economy, and, ultimately, consumers.
- Experts agree that it is up to the trucking industry to address its own labour challenges, and make the industry more attractive particularly to younger drivers.
So what can be done?
Whilst the industry accepts that the future of the long haul trucking industry is in there hands, they also believe that the government needs to play a part in the solution, specifically when it comes to establishing standards that recognise truck driving as a skilled occupation, through;
- Developing policies and regulatory frameworks that establish;
- national occupational, training, licensing standards, and;
- policies that support and enhances the industry’s productivity.
Whilst a complete solution to the impending shortage of long haul drivers is a long way off, now is the time for the industry to act. What can be agreed upon is, the industry can no longer afford to wait.
(1) Australian Trucking Association: Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency Future focus: Australia’s skills and workforce development needs
6th September 2012
(2) Queensland Trucking Association Strategic Plan and Facts