Truck driver

Shortage of truck drivers in Latvia and across Europe / Article

The shortage of truck drivers and the problems it poses for the road transport sector in Europe have increased in recent weeks, and the consequences are also being felt in Latvia, Latvian radio reported on October 12.

The UK, with Brexit and the pandemic, is currently facing the deepest crisis in the industry. However, Latvian entrepreneurs are also increasingly aware of the shortages.

Arkādijs Praiss, owner of the road transport company Heders and president of the Road Transport Association Latvijas Auto, said the problem had accumulated for many years. The profession of truck driver is no longer prestigious.

“The young generation categorically does not want to work in an industry where there is no comfort. Driving long distances involves traveling long distances, distance from home, inconvenience of life. Young men do not want to study to become truck drivers, although wages are now decent and there are other benefits, such as being able to go abroad. The salary is over a thousand euros and can reach two thousand five hundred, ”said Praiss.

There are 20,000 truck licenses in Latvia, but not 20,000 drivers. Arkādijs Praiss estimated that the number of drivers is around half of the number of licenses. Companies are therefore looking to hire third country nationals to work in Latvia and in interstate transport.

One of the industry leaders, Kreiss Andrejs Kuzņecovs, said that 70% of the company’s drivers come from third countries, including Ukraine. “Across Europe, 60% of all drivers will retire within the next seven years,” Kuzņecovs said.

Praiss said that in other countries, such as Lithuania and Poland, recruiting labor from third countries is easier. It takes a long time to sort a visa in Latvia, and it is more expensive and complicated. In Poland, for example, a truck driver could do it all in one day, but here it takes from two weeks to a month.

Citadele economist Mārtiņš Āboliņš also confirmed that the transport sector is particularly affected by the pandemic. Asked about the consequences of the driver shortage, he said: “Pressure on prices. The logistical situation – not only for the drivers but also for the maritime transport – is difficult all over the world. The capacity is lacking and there is a demand for different products at the same time. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is very strong as services are not yet fully available in many places. As a result, people spend more money on goods. […] The inventory of many products in warehouses is relatively low. Therefore, demand is high both in industry and in logistics. These structural problems accumulated with generational change are currently in very high demand, ”explained boliņš.

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