NatRoad calls on National Cabinet to address supply chain crisis

The results of a new survey have verified the pressing need with which the National Cabinet needs to secure the national supply chain.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) said the issue required urgent attention as the nation’s economy faced a looming crisis.

The survey, conducted by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) in partnership with NatRoad, demonstrates widespread driver shortages across the trucking industry.

The results, in fact, highlight critical driver shortages across all business sizes and types in the trucking sector, from owner-operators to large fleet managers.

“This is not just a crisis for the trucking industry, it’s a crisis for the national economy. We’re seeing a huge gap in the number of drivers required and the downstream impact on our supply chain and our country is significant,” NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said.

“Over 26,000 drivers are needed to fill the current gaps in our sector, with big fleet operators the most impacted. When there is a need for around 180,000 drivers for an effective sector, this represents a 14.4 per cent shortfall, well over the current national job vacancy rate of between 5 and 6 per cent.”

The trucking industry is also facing a significant demographic challenge, with a large portion of drivers nearing retirement age.

The survey found almost 50 per cent of all drivers were over the age of 55, with an average age of 49.

Moreover, the participation of young people and women in the industry is very low, with 5.2 per cent of drivers under 25 and just 6.5 per cent women.

NatRoad said these figures indicated a critical need to attract a younger and more diverse workforce.

“We are expecting the NSW road freight requirements to increase by 57.1 per cent by 2040, so we must act now to secure our supply chain. The survey results underscore the urgent need for National Cabinet to explore measures to secure the national supply chain,” Clark said.

“We need to develop incentive programs that make the trucking industry more appealing to young people and women, while encouraging current operators to continue their careers.

“This includes investing in training programs that equip new drivers with the necessary skills, improving career pathways into the industry, including better access to apprenticeships and traineeships, and focusing on increasing the number of young and female drivers.

“We must also improve the quality and competency of training and licensing and enhance their overall working conditions, especially for those in the industry already.”

Clark said this means addressing issues such as non-safety related fines, improving the quality and quantity of rest areas, and recognising the essential role of truck drivers by treating them with respect, including at customer depots and delivery sites.

“The supply chain is the backbone of our economy, and without enough drivers, the entire system is at risk,” he said.

“We need immediate action from the government to prevent further disruption.”

NatRoad has been provided the preliminary Australian results of the survey (below), with further detailed data to come in August.

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