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Covid-19 has exacerbated many things – and the driver shortage is one of them.

With driver testing in many countries suspended, the supply of licensed drivers has fallen even further behind demand, according to a study by Logistics UK.

Almost one in ten logistics businesses say the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of their business, according to the report, released today.

Alex Veitch, general manager for public policy at Logistics UK, said: “Our report shows 29% of logistics businesses anticipate that they will be unable to fill vacancies for HGV drivers this year; a further 14.5% expect long delays before filling a role.”

While Logistics UK is calling on the government to act, three major international organisations are trying to take matters into their own hands.

The Global Shippers Alliance (GSA), the IRU and the ITF have launched a driver charter, laying out the commitments of shippers, transport operators and drivers to improve how they are treated at collection and delivery sites.

Noting that drivers often face “difficult conditions, poor access to decent sanitation facilities and a lack of respect at loading and unloading sites”, the groups want to make the job more attractive and lift global standards.

The charter also aims to address some of the barriers to recruitment in the industry, especially for women and young people.

More than one-fifth of roles remain unfilled in many countries. However, only 2% of truck drivers globally are women, and as few as 5% of drivers are under 25 in Europe and Russia.

“Shippers want to run collection and delivery sites that are welcoming and secure for drivers,” said Denis Choumert, GSA chairman. “It is in our interest, and the interest of efficient global supply chains, to make sure drivers are empowered to do their job well.

“This charter will encourage compliance with laws and standards on loading and unloading sites, and best practice on how we can best work with commercial drivers all over the world.”

The groups are urging companies to sign up to the charter.

Umberto de Pretto, IRU secretary general, added: “Road transport is a vital link in all supply chains. As we have seen clearly during the pandemic, truck and van drivers, and the operators they work for, are essential to the functioning of the global economy, yet all too often they face poor conditions. They are dedicated professionals who need a decent working environment to do their job properly.”

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