The war in Ukraine has once again highlighted the problems in supply chains and the importance of drivers in international transportation. The current problems have exacerbated the two-year crisis caused by the coronavirus and have revealed a deficit when it comes to this profession across Europe.
Figures released by European countries are causing turmoil for carriers in Serbia because there aren’t enough drivers for the domestic market as Serbian drivers are much better treated in foreign countries, where they have better salaries and working conditions.
“Serbia lacks about 8,000 professional drivers in cargo transport and about 4,000 drivers in public transport. Out of 160,000 drivers working in this sector, one in three is over 51 years old and 719 drivers are over 70 years old,” says Goran Aleksić, Director of the Srbijatransport Association.
Drivers are trained in 28 vocational schools in the country and about 1,000 students graduate each year. Aleksić notes that Serbia needs at least 3,000 students more to graduate from vocational (driving) schools for the country to have enough drivers to replace those who are due to retire.
“Outside of the school system, only 74 people were trained for this job in 2020 and 238 last year. Although we had problems and restrictions, the fact remains that we are still short 6,000 new drivers,” Aleksić says.
He underlines that the lack of drivers is a society’s problem, because it can affect the quality of services that people use every day, but also affects traffic safety.
According to current legislation in Serbia, drivers have to be at least 24 years old, and have to have two years of driving experience for the category C vehicles (trucks). According to Aleksić, those who start out driving a truck have a hard time later switching to a bus.
Milica Dubljević from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce says that there is a discussion with the relevant authorities about reducing the age limit for truck drivers from 24 to 21, like in European countries.
This post is also available in: Italiano