According to the statistics of the Department of Statistics, during the first half of this year, cargo turnover by road transport decreased by 9.3 percent. up to 28.45 billion ton kilometers. This is the first market decline in the first half of the year since 2015, when cargo turnover by road transport decreased by 11.1 percent.
During the first half of this year, a drop in turnover was recorded in all types of road transport: international transport – 8.8 percent, cabotage – as much as 17.8 percent.
According to Povilas Driž, Secretary General of the International Transport and Logistics Alliance (TTLA), the road freight transport market is shrinking in Lithuania, although the demand for freight transportation services in Europe continues to grow. “This is evidenced by one thing – the part of the export of transport services carried out by our country’s companies is taken over by carriers from other countries, which have better access to the EU cargo market and more favorable conditions for employing drivers from third countries, especially from Belarus”, says P. Drižas.
According to market research company Research and Markets, the European road freight market grew by 9.4 percent in 2021, and 4.9 percent is forecast in 2022. growth
According to Mr. Driž, Poland, for example, also faces the challenges of a lack of drivers, but during the first half of this year, it managed to maintain stable indicators of freight transportation by road. According to him, the business of our neighboring state uses simplified consular procedures when recruiting workers from third countries. Migrant workers make up around a quarter of the driver workforce in Europe.
“It is necessary to understand that all European countries are facing a shortage of drivers. Countries that find quick solutions and are able to flexibly adapt to existing conditions dictated by the complex geopolitical and economic situation win in the competitive struggle. In this case, Lithuania just loses,” says P. Drižas. According to him, Lithuania has demonstrated one of the fastest growth rates in the EU cargo market in the last few years, managing to establish itself among the three EU member states that transport the most international cargo. This result was largely achieved by accelerating the attraction of drivers from abroad.
As a result of the war started by Russia in Ukraine, about 12 thousand people left Lithuanian companies. Ukrainian drivers. Opportunities to recruit drivers from Belarus have also opened up. Labor force losses were particularly painful when the requirements of the Mobility Package came into effect regarding the regular return of drivers and tractors – in order to maintain the current volume of vehicles, companies faced at least a 1.5 times greater need for drivers.
“Despite the combination of adverse circumstances, the international transport sector faces additional domestic political barriers: this year’s quota for hiring foreign drivers was exhausted last week. Recruitment procedures at migration services have stalled, and some visa centers can only submit applications from next year. Responsible institutions should address these issues as a matter of urgency, but too little attention is paid to them,” says P. Drižas.
The International Road Transport Union IRU predicts that the number of professional driver vacancies in Europe will increase by 40% in 2022. According to the organization, there is a shortage of about 400,000 people on the continent. drivers. The number of vacant driver jobs in Romania reaches 71 thousand, in Poland and Germany – 80 thousand each, in the United Kingdom – 100 thousand.
According to the Employment Service, during the first half of this year, drivers of heavy trucks and cargo vehicles were the most in-demand profession in Lithuania among qualified workers. During the mentioned period, employers registered more than 10 thousand to employ these drivers. vacant jobs.