World HGV driver shortage to double by 2028 | Descartes Routing UK

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World HGV driver shortage to double by 2028

The future of driver shortages


A  recent report released by the IRU (International Road Transport Union) estimated that over 3 million HGV driver positions are currently unfilled, this equates to 7% of all positions. However, it expects that the global shortage of HGV drivers will get steadily worse over the next few years, with vacancies doubling to 7 million by 2028. 

By 2028: 

  • 4.9 million in China = 20% of positions 
  • 745,000 in Europe (inc UK) = 17% of positions 
  • 43,000 in the UK =  

This issue in the UK was recently covered in “Another HGV driver shortage looms closer”. It revealed that the number of UK drivers retiring in the next 10 years is estimated to be around 113,000 while the number of new drivers joining the profession is falling woefully short of this number.  The same has been reported by the IRU as a global phenomenon, the HGV driving profession globally has an aging population with less than 12% of all truck drivers being below 25 years of age, falling to just 5% in Europe. This issue is exacerbated in some countries insisting that drivers need to be over 21 coupled with the high cost of training (typically 3x the minimum monthly wage). Towards the end of 2023 the UK took steps to reduce the minimum HGV Driver’s age to 17 to encourage young people into the profession. (Read Teenagers to drive HGV’s

The IRU stated that many fleet operators are doing their part, (UK salaries have been rising)to encourage more new drivers, but more needs to be done, such as the recently announced investment in roadside facilities in the UK. 

However, the issue will be around for years to come.Fleet operators should look at alternatives to simply hiring more drivers by making their fleet operation as productive as possible, utilising all their available drivers and vehicles.  


If your fleet operations are suffering due to driver shortages, Descartes can help. Descartes delivery scheduling and route optimisation solutions will improve productivity to minimise the need to recruit new drivers.   

Contact us today and see how we help you overcome the challenge of driver shortages.