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Is The Pandemic The Only Cause Of The Driver's Crisis?
29 Kasım 2021 Pazartesi 16:21

Is The Pandemic The Only Cause Of The Driver's Crisis?

Nuray Pekcan, Editor-in-Chief of My Truck Magazine had a conversation with Prof. Dr. Birol Erkan, Lecturer at Iskenderun Technical University about the driver problem, which is on the agenda in Europe and which the sector has started to pronounce frequently in our country, its causes and what needs to be done for a solution.


Iskenderun Technical University Lecturer Prof. Dr. Birol Erkan,




Starting his speech by emphasizing that the driver problem is not just a pandemic-focused problem, Erkan stated that the problem existed before the pandemic and said that; “I came across a perception as if this problem emerged with a pandemic. First of all, we need to remove this perception, because there was such a problem before the pandemic and it was being talked about. The same is true for Turkey. This problem has accelerated with the pandemic.”

“Pandemic Is A Factor That Increases The Problems Experienced By Drivers”

Stating that the driver problem is the main reason for Europe, especially England, Erkan lists the other reasons in a few items. Emphasizing that the problem was about Britain's exit from the EU, namely Brexit, Erkan said that; “This problem has been talked about all over Europe and even in Turkey for a long time. There are problems experienced by drivers, and the pandemic has been a factor that increased the problems. With the UK's exit from the EU, there have been and are problems. This was a serious problem for Europe, the UK, and even for non-member countries. The sector, especially the UK's logistics sector, and with it Eastern European drivers, were severely affected. With the UK's exit from the EU, free movement abolished. The UK signs Free Trade Agreements with certain European countries. Of course, this is also a process. After the Brexit deal, especially around 20,000 people left the UK. Because they have free roam problems. Post-Brexit UK's visa problems also emerged. This situation revealed a serious supply problem in the sector. This is an important issue.”


“Labor Supply in the Sector Has Seriously Decreased”

Stating that as the second factor, countries have switched to a closed economy during the pandemic and visa, customs problems and waiting times have emerged in this process, Erkan states that the situation has adversely affected the supply of drivers to the sector and their working conditions. Erkan said: “Waitings, welfare declines and quarantines have created serious problems. For example, only in England, the recruitment of 40 thousand people was postponed because the driver's license exams could not be held. The working conditions that emerged especially during the pandemic period caused a decrease in the labor supply. These have led some to withdraw from the industry. Both reductions through retirement and decreased participation in the sector have reduced the labor supply.”


“The Decrease of New Entries to the Sector Has Created a Huge Problem All Over Europe”

Stating that the difficulties brought by the pandemic period set a negative example for the new entrants to the sector, Erkan pointed out that the drivers work under difficult conditions and continued his words as follows: “Communication problems, problems in entering and leaving the country, stopover problems, long working hours... It's a difficult industry. And when the pandemic was added to these, the sector lost more of its declining appeal. Detachments from the industry due to retirement or other reasons further reduced the supply in the industry. European countries are countries with a large elderly population. The decrease of new entries to the sector has created a huge problem all over Europe. The wages are not high in the industry. There is also the image problem. This problem exists not only in Turkey, but also in European countries. Being a truck driver generally comes across as an appearance of incompetence. This creates problems for entry into the sector. When we combined all these, the driver issue emerged as a big problem that increased in severity with the pandemic.”


“One of the Ways to Increase Labor Supply in the Sector is to Encourage People to Join the Sector”

Giving an example of a market chain that announced that they would give a thousand pounds to the drivers working with them in order to increase the supply of truck drivers in England, Erkan stated that the entrance to the sector should be encouraged in our country in the same way, and said that; “Of course, there are also handicaps; but at least such an incentive should be made by the sector or the state. Because the importance of the logistics industry has been re-understood in the pandemic. It is a very critical sector and at least the logistics sector is one of the sectors that has been minimally affected by the pandemic. Because it has a dynamic structure. One of the ways to increase the labor supply in the sector is to encourage people to join the sector. The advantage that the British company does, we can also give to new recruits. This sector is a labor-intensive sector and the decrease in labor supply causes serious problems, especially in a period of restrictions such as a pandemic. This causes an increase in costs and reflects negatively on the consumer.”


“This Profession Is Not Attractive When A Cost-Benefit Analysis Is Performed”

Pointing out that there are financial and moral problems about the driver, Erkan emphasizes that the potential exists, but the profession is not attractive when cost-benefit analysis is made. Erkan said that; “When people look at the salary they will receive, they think that they do deserve more that this when consider the difficulties. Here, companies or the state have to subsidize it. However, subsidizing companies will result in a significant increase in costs. If companies do it themselves, their costs will increase and their competitiveness will be adversely affected. With the awareness of how important the logistics sector is, tax exemptions for the sector must be introduced. We do not only have financial problems, we also have spiritual problems. Spiritually, the issue of education needs to be resolved through cooperation with universities or other collaborations. It is important for drivers to know a certain level of regulation or speak a foreign language in a global context.”


“Work Is Being Carried Out To Change The Perception Towards The Sector In Europe”

Pointing out that efforts are being made to change the perception of the sector in Europe, Erkan finally said that; “The importance of the logistics sector needs to be emphasized. At least the famine problems in England and Germany show how critical a sector logistics is. Europe says that they do not give enough importance to the sector. These are also critical warnings for other countries.”

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