As we work our way into the reality of 2022 and the last of the summer holidays are behind us, the trucking industry is looking for light at the end of the tunnel.
What sort of light are we looking for? Frankly, anything better than the current situation. Last year we thought the continuous testing and border controls were bad, but the impact of the government’s decision to let it rip, just as the omicron variant hit our shores, has hit extremely hard.
The one thing which would help out in a mass infection event like this would be plenty of free access to rapid antigen testing. Not only are they difficult to access, the lack of preparedness probably means we will see a glut of RATs arrive just as the recovery from peak infection begins and those missing team members emerge from enforced isolation anyway.
There is nothing which highlights the historical shortage of new people coming into the industry, more than the recent events. If you are already running at your workforce’s capacity going into a crisis and then hit them with a virus which takes over 30 per cent of them out of action, it’s going to get messy, and it has.
If the trucking industry had been successful in getting up apprenticeship schemes and improving young people’s perception of trucking then at least there would have been some chance of filling gaps, as they appeared, with competent people. On this topic, we will leave aside the laughable 16 year old fork lift driver solution.
To add the cherry on top of the whole scenario, we have a government which doesn’t have its eye on the ball. Instead it has its eye on an election in the next few months. Decisions are not being made in clear air, but through the filter of an election campaign.
All of this doom and gloom is not going to do much for morale in the industry or for workforce retention. However, if there is one thing the culture of the trucking industry is used to dealing with, it’s adversity.
This year definitely falls under the definition of adversity and there is no doubt times are going to be tough. But, if there is one thing I have learnt in my forty-odd years in the industry, it’s that we will find a way out of here. It will be achieved through the ingenuity, reliability and pure arse of the trucking community. The same characteristic that makes us difficult to deal with, also makes us resilient in a crisis.