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What is the Impact of Driver Shortage on the Logistics Industry?

A number of effects are shaping the present and the future of the logistics industry, from the economy cycles through the raw material prices to the digitalization. However, one of the most significant effects is the shortage of labour force, which has already been reverberating and shaping the industry for decades.

By looking back to the past two decades, we can see that even back in the 90s there was a severe labour shortage in the territory of the former EU member states, which markedly appeared in the field of road transport as well. The newly joining countries flooded Europe with fresh, ready to work labour. Hundred-tousands of drivers left for the West to find jobs and masses of Eastern European companies were carving out bigger and bigger slices from the cake of the European logistics, basing their business models on the competitive advantage of the abundant labour. (PL,RO,HU)

There was a new balance formed by the post crisis years where western carriers were rather serving the local (national) and regional (short-international) markets whilst the eastern ones were serving the middle and long distance (international) markets.

By 2015 eastern countries had also been reached by labour shortage owing to the economy growth, the increase of living standard and mass migration (to the West). The competitiveness of eastern freight forwarders has stalled. To solve labour shortage and to serve the obtained western price sensitive markets, companies begun to recruit people from outside of the EU, (SRB,UA,BY). This, however, rewrites again the European competitive landscape. Former winners may become losers, (PL,HU,RO) and new pretenders may pop up, such as Lithuania.

All in all, there are 5 major consequensis of the European driver shortage:

1. Increase of the cost of road transport
2. Decrease of the quality of service
3. Transformation of the competitiveness map
4. Enforcement of the automation and digitization of (Self –driven trucks, telematic systems, M2M communication , AI, IoT),
5. Enforcement of efficiency improvement (better use of driving times, Intermodal/RoRO solutions, Big data)

The changes generated by driver shortage are far from being the end in the logistics industry; they have just begun. Their outcome is further complicated by extra impacts such as Mobility Package or Brexit.