The deficit of qualified drivers on the market is not a new problem. Almost a decade ago, in 2009, the European Parliament warned that the EU lacks 3.8% of truck drivers. The latest PwC report indicated that in approximately 5 years Germany will be short of even 150 thousand drivers. According to the latest data, currently Poland has a shortage of 100 thousand drivers.
Shortage of labour
Specialists warn that the lack of professional drivers will slow down the development of transport companies, the TFL sector but also the whole economy. Unfortunately the forecasts are far from optimistic. Qualified drivers are getting older so many of them will soon retire and there is not enough fresh blood on the job market. The last year's research commissioned by ZF Friedrichshafen showed that by 2016, appropriately 40% of German drivers will have retired. The estimates talk about 30 thousands employees who will disappear from the market in this way!
According to the data by Eurostat from July 2017, the unemployment rate in the European Union dropped to 7.6%. It is a significant decrease as in May 2016 it was only 10.1% . The record low was noted by the Czech Republic and Germany where the unemployment rates are 2.9% and 3.6% accordingly. Poland and the Netherlands are at 4.7%. The whole Europe is fighting for applicants and the outcome is the rise in salaries. The average European salary went up by 2-19% between January 2016 and January 2017. The highest growth of remuneration has been noted in Romania (19%) and it is quite high also in Hungary (15%), the Czech Republic (11%), Estonia (9%) and in Poland (8%).  However not only salaries are important. Today companies are aware that in order to attract new staff and retain the best employees, they must offer them various benefits, great work atmosphere, flexible hours, etc.
Experts from the sector underline that logistics is one of those segments which need specialists the most - and those are difficult to come by. Only experienced employees are able to ensure the stability of processes connected with the supply chain. Attracting and retaining them is frequently connected with significant expenses.
The previous year was also marked by the growth of the average wage of drivers and operational employees. In the European Union it has reached 10,56 Euro per hour. This translates into higher labour and administrative costs for the sector.
Digitization and care for the natural environment
A big test that transport companies had to take were the EU requirements which refer to strictly technical matters, e.g. digitization. As of June 15, 2019, all commercial transport vehicles will have to be equipped with smart tachographs. Thanks to the in-built GPS system and the possibility of remote access for control purposes, this device will limit the possibility of tempering with its operations. Those changes are necessary yet they are quite costly for the TFL sector.
The next issue is the EU regulations connected with 0minimising the negative impact of the transport sector on the natural environment. According to the new EU regulations, TFL vehicles should comply with the Euro 6 emission standard However, expert stress that the switch from Euro 5 to Euro 6 will mean increasing the costs by 30%. A problem here is also the limited access to the infrastructure for alternative drives (e.g. LNG) and the pressure put on intermodal transport. Nevertheless, taking into account the fleet under the direct management of Raben Group companies in Poland, the share of the Euro 5 and 6 compliant trucks is 100% already today. When it comes to Euro 6 compliant engines, the share is 60% of the total number of own means of transport
Also a serious problem was raised by the ban on weekend rests of drivers in their vehicles regulated by the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council (EC) no. 561/2006. On that basis, local regulations were already implemented by Belgium and France, and on 25. 2017, by Germany. Taking into account the fact that the German Local Association of Local Motorway Parking Facilities (VEDA) estimated the shortage of parking places for trucks at 31,000 and considering that the European motorways don’t provide sufficient hotel infrastructure, it is clear that this regulation will have a great impact on the costs of carriers and the way work time of drivers is managed.
Specialists warn that the new EU regulations which must by adhered to by logistics operators will equalize or event increase the costs of running the business.
Responding to changes
The European economy is growing the the companies continue to increase production and sales. Consequently the demand for transport is rising. The contemporary market is forcing the implementation of new solutions and the care for the natural environment is already the generally applicable standard. The growing requirements of customers and the increasing volumes of goods to be transported combined with the lack of qualified employees and their increasing demands causes that the increase prices is inevitable. This is the price we have to pay for living in such economic conditions.
For years now Raben Group has been focused on innovations and very flexible in dealing with changes, for instance by investing in the ecological fleet and implementing many conveniences for its employees, particularly the drivers, in order to attract and retain the best staff. At the same time we are aware that the environment keeps on changing and we are prepared for that.