Apparently, there is a shortage of skilled code 14 drivers in South Africa just like in the US and UK. This is according to Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) who supplies staffing solutions to the road freight and logistics sector.
Arnoux Maré, CEO of ISS told News24 that they have been short of about 3 000 truck and bus drivers since the beginning of the year.
According to Maré the main reasons for the shortage have been the lockdown restrictions and early retirement by experienced drivers.
Maré said, due to lockdown restrictions, aspiring truck drivers have not been able to access training and licensing. He says that retirements have continued while there have been no new entries into the market.
Drivers are in such high demand, that employers simply do not have the capacity to allow them time off to enhance their skills and improve their abilities
Arnoux Maré, CEO of Innovative Staffing Solutions
He said that the driver shortage has led to unskilled and undocumented foreign national drivers being recruited.
“Drivers are in such high demand, that employers simply do not have the capacity to allow them time off to enhance their skills and improve their abilities. They are required to be behind the wheel every available moment,” he said.
South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, (Satawu) general secretary — Anele Kiet did not entirely agree with Maré on the employment of foreign truck drivers.
He said they are hired because they accept whatever salary they are offered and most of them do not comply with the National Bargaining Council of Road Freight and Logistics Industries (NBCRFLI).
“We are not against the appointment of foreign nationals, but they must come to South Africa with permits, all the requirements to work here, and also make sure that the people appointing them are in compliance with the laws of this country because that’s what makes it harder for South Africans to get a job – because the foreign nationals allow themselves to be used as cheap labour,” he said.
Maré says that his company employs and outsources over 7 500 drivers.
“Driver training is arguably the most crucial intervention that can be made to harness South Africa’s high road accident rate,” he said
However, some employers are reluctant to train drivers, as they become more marketable and can be poached by competitors, said Maré.
Also, Maré said without skilled, committed truck drivers capable of safely operating multi-ton machines, much of the commerce in South Africa would grind to a halt.
SA Trucker, however, does not believe there is a driver shortage in South Africa. Our privately run database of truck drivers looking for employment runs to thousands of qualified and experienced personnel who cannot find jobs because there aren’t many opportunities out there.
On several occasions we have shared on our social media platforms, hundreds of job-seeking truck drivers gathered outside trucking companies looking for drivers. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, only a few get to be hired.
It’s actually shocking that with the level of unemployment in the country, ISS is actually reporting a shortage of skilled code 14 drivers.
On one occasion, there was chaos at ERB Logistics in Durban where ISS was recruiting drivers after hundreds of applicants failed to submit their CVs because they had taken enough candidates for the day.
Unlike, the USA and UK where the shortage is evident as garages have run dry as there are no drivers to deliver the fuel, qualified truck drivers are sitting at home jobless and starving.
The USA and the UK driver shortage can be easily be manifested by the massive pay hikes offered to drivers to stay on. This is not the case in South Africa, companies compete to pay the least wages as the labour supply is too high than demand.
Maré just fell short of saying truck driving is becoming a scarce skill. Tell that to thousands of qualified and experienced truck drivers reading this at home! Tell us what you think in the comments section.