NatRoad calls on National Cabinet to address crisis in supply chain

supply chain crisis in supply chain, driver shortage,
NatRoad is calling on National Cabinet to immediately address a looming crisis for the nation's economy and supply chain as a new survey demonstrates significant driver shortages across the trucking industry.

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Executive summary

  • NatRoad’s survey with IRU confirms a critical shortage of truck drivers in Australia.
  • This shortage represents a looming crisis for our economy and supply chain.
  • NatRoad calls for immediate action to address the issue at the highest levels of government.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) is calling on National Cabinet to immediately address a looming crisis for the nation’s economy and supply chain as a new survey demonstrates significant driver shortages across the trucking industry.

The survey, conducted by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) in partnership with NatRoad, provides direct Australian results for the first time. The results 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,” Warren Clark, CEO of NatRoad 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 % shortfall, well over the current national job vacancy rate of between 5 and 6 %.”

The trucking industry is also facing a significant demographic challenge, with a large portion of drivers nearing retirement age. The survey found almost 50% 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% of drivers under 25 and just 6.5% 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% 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,” Mr 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. 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. We need immediate action from the government to prevent further disruption,” Mr Clark concluded.

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

Media Contact – Chris Wagner 0434 378 939