Driver shortage takes toll

Trucking companies at a local and national level are experiencing a shortage of competent drivers according to peak road body South Australian Road Transport Association.

South Australian Road Transport Association executive Steve Shearer said there was a widespread shortage of appropriately skilled truck drivers impacting deliveries right across the nation.

“The problem is, if you have a trucking company, just like you need diesel for them to work you also need drivers for them to work,” he said.

“We are seeing qualified drivers leave the industry.”

There have been mixed results among truck companies in the South East, because while some companies have been fortunate enough to find staff, others are struggling to locate drivers amid the nation-wide shortage.

South West Freight is one of many companies in the region currently feeling the effects of the ongoing issue, with driver manager Renee Ackerley saying there had been a shortage of truck drivers for at least the last five years.

“There are plenty of jobs out there but not enough staff to fill them,” he said.

“We always have at least one truck sitting idle because there is no one to drive it.

Mr Ackerley said the shortage slowed down the national supply chain, meaning as a result it takes longer for consumers to receive their products.

“The lifestyle of an interstate driver (can be) unappealing because of the long hours and being away from family.”

Merrett Logging director Adam Merett said while his business did not have a problem with the staff shortage, he had noticed it was making an impact across the transport industry.

“I think you will find whatever industry you are in, whether if it is forestry or transport, there is a shortage of workers not just locally but interstate,” he said.

“While COVID-19 has certainly played it’s part we have been fortunate enough to have a sufficient amount of staff.

“COVID is still causing issues because we are losing 5% of staff a week to it, we have 90 employees and we are losing 2-5 operators a week.

Mr Merrett said the uncertainty at the start of the pandemic had caused experienced workers to walk away from forestry to a certain extent as the job dynamics had changed.

“We have definitely lost people with industry experience that are hard to replace because it takes time, effort and training and the hardest to retrain or up-skill are likely drivers because it is a very costly process to get a B-double ticket.”

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